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Rector’s Address - August 21, 2013

Sacred Heart Major Seminary

August 21, 2013

 

Heroic Witnesses:  Missionary Hearts

II

Joyfully Bear the Light of Truth

 

“Therefore, having this ministry by God’s mercy, we do not lose heart.  On the contrary, we have renounced the deeds one hides for shame; we do not practice cunning nor do we falsify the word of God, but through the open preaching of the truth we commend ourselves to anyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”  2 Cor. 4: 1-2

The words of St. Paul to the Corinthian community in this letter are personal, direct and filled with emotion.  He writes with a deep passion and manifest love for their well-being in Christ.  He knows the challenges they face from the society around them and how easily they seem to be influenced by voices not speaking the truth.  In the face of so many challenges, especially living as a Christian in the midst of a Hellenistic culture, St. Paul recognizes that the Corinthian community needed these words:  ‘We do not lose heart.” (or we might also say, ‘we do not grow lax, reluctant, remiss in our duty).  Even though “the god of the present age [as he notes] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they do not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” St. Paul insists that they not retreat into fear, not retreat into the darkness of the lie and remain silent.  

St. Paul seeks to offer them the encouragement that can only come from God, the encouragement that awakens each member of the community to the grace of God pulsing through them, alive in them, and shaping them so that they can give witness to Christ.  The encouragement he offers is an awakening to faith, given by God and received freely in their hearts.  In so doing, they respond in faith to the outpouring of this free gift and receive the courage to give authentic and joyful witness to Christ. 

I begin the address this year with this passage because the words of St. Paul speak in such a compelling way to each one of us today, here at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, as we stand on the threshold of another year of formation and ask the Lord to bless our efforts that we might humbly cooperate with his grace as we engage in the joyful and challenging work of preparing witnesses for the New Evangelization.  Are our challenges that different from that of the Corinthian community? In some ways yes and some ways no.  We cannot give into the temptation or be falsely disillusioned that God has somehow abandoned us, nor do we run headlong into the lie of self-sufficiency and think that our efforts alone will make the difference.

The cultural landscape today presents us with what may seem to be enormous, even impossible challenges:  the HHS mandate; the June ruling of the Supreme Court on Marriage; the continued scourge of abortion in our country; the list may seem endless.  But we hear the words of St. Paul again:  “We do not lose heart.”  Because in the midst of the challenges is a joy and confidence that only the Lord can give.  We do not fabricate it by ourselves, but rather receive it because we know that genuine and heroic witnesses, who have missionary hearts, bear the light of truth, who is Christ.  And for that, we offer praise to the Father.

And so:  Joyfully bear the light of truth.  Last year, as we prepared to enter the ‘Year of Faith’ I reflected on the gift of faith and the Apostolic Letter Parta Fidei.  From that context I introduced the vision of looking toward three heroic witnesses, three holy guides who could provide for us the framework in which we could realize our mission here at Sacred Heart Major Seminary with greater clarity, and also provide a pathway for us in the years to come as we form our students.  These three witnesses are all local and relevant, yet manifest a universal call to charity, leadership, and proclamation.  Last year we gave some emphasis to Fr. Solanus Casey as we sought ways to improve our formation programs, always with the goal of forming heroic witnesses who were filled with a love for the poor.  What a blessing to have, in the heart of the year, the election of a new Holy Father who took the name Francis and has reminded all of us to be more attentive to the poor and marginalized.  I am grateful for all the work done over the course of last year, especially with the working groups devoted to improvements in the MDiv and MAPS programs.

As we conclude the ‘Year of Faith’ I would like to continue with the vision of ‘Heroic Witnesses:  Missionary Hearts”, but this year (part II) begin by offering some reflections on the recent encyclical Lumen Fidei.  The encyclical (written by ‘four hands’ as Pope Francis noted) is the perfect point of departure as we begin the new year and offers a profound exploration into the relevance and truth of our faith.  How can the encyclical guide us in the work of formation?  How can it challenge us?  In addition, I would like to link points from the encyclical to another heroic witness and holy guide, Fr. Michael J. McGivney, as one whose faith and witness changed the lives of thousands during his life-time and millions through his work.  His faith manifested itself in the pastoral leadership he provided for his parish and for the church.  Finally, I would like to address the practical and strategic ways in which we will fulfill our mission here at Sacred Heart, as we form new heroic witnesses, priests, deacons, and lay leaders with ‘missionary hearts’ who will joyfully bear the light of truth. 

 

Lumen Fidei

Faith born of an encounter

The ‘Year of Faith’ has been “a time of grace that is helping us to sense the great joy of believing and to renew our wonder at the vast horizons that faith opens up, so as then to profess that faith in its unity and integrity, faithful to the memory of the Lord and sustained by his presence and by the working of the Holy Spirit” (LF, 5).  Our efforts here at the seminary have yielded so much fruit, especially with the conference commemorating the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council, at which we welcomed over 350 participants.  This year also is providing the universal church the opportunity to have sustained reflection on the gift of faith and its proper place within the context of the New Evangelization.  

Among the most significant blessings of the year has been Lumen Fidei.  Obviously my intention here is not to give a comprehensive reflection on the encyclical, but rather raise up those points that speak directly to our mission here at the seminary.  Three points that I want to highlight are:  That faith is born of an encounter; the power of witness; and the gift of the sacraments.

From the very beginning of the encyclical, Lumen Fidei reminds us that “faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love that precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives.  Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment and that a vision of the future opens up before us” (LF, 4).  Faith offers the possibility of encountering the light of truth in the person of Christ, in and through a genuine personal relationship.

This understanding is so often casually lost, misunderstood, or openly denied in our society today.  For a variety of reasons, the fastest growing group in America are those who claim “no religion” and larger numbers of people are hostile to the possibility of faith leading us to the truth; faith as a free engagement on our part; faith as a relevant aspect of our life; and faith as a rational activity on our part.  Sadly, faith and phantasy, or faith and myth are put in the same category.  For this reason, the encyclical rightly notes that “our culture has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world.  We think that God is to be found in the beyond” (LF, 19).  

The emphasis on faith ‘born of an encounter with the living God’ reminds a cynical world that God is not merely an idea, a philosophy, or a remote principle.  The living God can be heard, can be seen, can be touched.  The challenges of the early evangelists  remain today, to speak in such personal terms about the living God to individuals who are slow to believe.  But, faith is never at odds with the natural light of reason and on the contrary works in harmony as we encounter the Lord, and in that encounter, transformed at the very depth of our being.       

And so faith draws us into a genuine participation in the life of the Trinity.  Thus faith is not merely a unique way of seeing God or hearing God, or understanding God.  As the encyclical points out:   “The fullness that Jesus brings to faith has another decisive aspect.  In faith, Christ is not simply the one in whom we believe, the supreme manifestation of God’s love; he is also the one with whom we are united precisely in order to believe.  Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes:  it is a participation in his way of seeing” (LF, 18). 

What relevance does all of this have for us as we prepare our seminarians, deacons  and  lay leaders for ministry?  As we teach and form, we are reminded that we share (in a special way) in the incredible task of facilitating the encounter between our students and the truth of the living God.  What are the challenges we need to overcome so that our students have a genuine encounter with God through their study, prayer, and ministry?  What are the obstacles that prevent our students from being transformed by the living God?  What are the opposing forces that seek to pull their attention away from an awareness of his presence in their lives?  Philosophy and theology are not sterile activities that leave us (and our students) untouched.  “Those who believe are transformed by the love to which they have opened their hearts in faith.  By their openness to this offer of primordial love, their lives are enlarged and expanded.  “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (LF, 21).

Witness

Here it seems that the encyclical offers some powerful direction for us in terms of witness.  Faith is born of the encounter with the living God, but then propels us outward in witness.  As Chapter Three of the encyclical proposes:  “Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, heard his voice and received his light, cannot keep this gift to themselves.  Since faith is hearing and seeing, it is also handed on as word and light.  …The word, once accepted, becomes a response, a confession of faith, that spreads to others and invites them to believe” (LF, 37).  The movement mentioned here highlights the active part of faith, the paradosis or handing on that takes place generation after generation.  It is not just a static object that is passed on from one to another.  Nor is it something which I lose once I pass it on to another.  Participation in the divine mystery remains alive and active in me even in the midst of the passing.  That is the dynamic of tradition and the power of witness.  

That witness is deepened, shaped, and formed here during the years of seminary life.  You and I accept this responsibility with the utmost humility.  What an awesome task it is!  To participate in the living tradition in this way, here at the seminary, and to help facilitate the formation of witnesses who have truly encountered Christ, know Christ, love Christ, and seek to make him known.  What an awesome task.  And yet, we know well that the effectiveness of our teaching and formation is directly related to the extent to which we ourselves submit with joy and confidence before the love of God.  Before we can engage in this task, we ourselves need to encounter Christ personally, each day, without reservation, and never stop seeking a deeper holiness and courage as a witness.  Then, with that disposition, we become true mentors of the students, even before we speak a word in the classroom, hand out a syllabus, or clarify an assignment.  

Sacraments

Finally, the encyclical reminds us that there is a special setting in which we give witness and in which faith is communicated, helping us to engage the New Evangelization more deeply.  The Holy Father writes:  “For transmitting a purely doctrinal content, an idea might suffice or perhaps a book or the repetition of a spoken message.  But what is communicated in the church, what is handed down in her living tradition, is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light that touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to relationships lived in communion” (LF, 40).  The Sacraments.  

The sacraments communicate the mystery of our salvation and offer us the possibility of touching, hearing, and receiving the living God.  In the sacraments, the whole person is engaged and we are drawn into the very mystery we receive.  The encyclical notes that “While the sacraments are indeed sacraments of faith, it can also be said that faith itself possesses a sacramental structure.  The awakening of faith is linked to the dawning of a new sacramental sense in our lives as human beings and as Christians, in which vision and material realities are seen to point beyond themselves to the mystery of the eternal” (LF, 40).

In the celebration of the sacraments there is an ‘awakening of faith’ that brings with it a greater clarity about our identity as beloved sons and daughters of the living God; a deeper conviction about our call to be witnesses; and a vibrant hope in the reality of the eternal.  In this context, then, the sacramental structure of faith points not only to the movement of God toward us, but also the call we receive to respond to that gift.  

In this context we come to understand that the New Evangelization is as much about priests, deacons, and lay leaders ourselves as it is about our parishioners.  It is not merely speaking about how to evangelize or the development of innovative programs for evangelization, but an awakened faith that moves us to give genuine witness.  If the priests, deacons, and lay leaders that we form are to evangelize, they must first believe, and be alive in the faith.  Believe that they need God, that they need the sacraments, and that they need to encounter Christ.  This awakening of faith in our hearts and in the hearts of our students is at the core of the New Evangelization. 

Thus, having been nourished and transformed through the sacraments, we give powerful witness in the world to the love and mercy of the eternal God.  Yes, he is present.  And Yes, he calls us to have the courage to bear joyfully his light, the light of truth.  

The encyclical concludes with a reminder that we ought not be ashamed to proclaim his name and point to his presence among us, even in the public sector.  As the Holy Father charges:  “When faith is weakened, the foundation of humanity is weakened.  ..In the letter to the Hebrews we read that ‘God is not ashamed to be called their god; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.’ (Heb. 11:1 6).  Here the expression ‘is not ashamed’ is associated with public acknowledgment.  The intention is to say that God, by his concrete actions, makes a public avowal that he is present in our midst and that he desires to solidify every human relationship.  Could it be the case, instead, that we are the ones who are ashamed to call God our God?  That we are the ones who fail to confess him as such in our public life, who fail to propose the grandeur of the life in common that he makes possible?  Faith illumines life and society.  If it possesses a creative light for each new moment of history, it is because it sets every event in relationship to the origin and destiny of all things in the Father” (LF, 54).  

The encyclical thus calls us to an awakened faith, a faith that is born of the encounter with the living God, one that is experienced in a special way through the sacraments, and one that prompts us to give joyful witness, bearing the light of truth.

 

Fr. McGivney

Lumen Fidei will undoubtedly serve us well in our teaching and formation responsibilities in the coming years.  And as we seek to nurture the awakening of faith in our own lives, we can also look to our heroic witnesses, our holy guides again for inspiration.

As we enter this year, I think it will be important for us to explore the gift of faith as it informs the way we understand effective pastoral leadership.  As I mentioned, last year we gave emphasis to Fr. Solanus Casey and the importance of pastoral charity.  This year, we turn to the Venerable Fr. Michael J. McGivney, whose steadfast faith and desire to lead the people of his parish sets the bar for what a faith-filled witness and a pastoral leader looks like.

Why McGivney?  Fr. McGivney was born in Waterbury (CT) on August 12, 1852.  He was the first of Patrick and Mary McGivney’s 13 children.  During the late 19th Century much of the north east experienced open hostility to Catholic immigrants.  These immigrants, many of whom were young, impoverished, and still learning English, were often abused by business owners and forced into extremely dangerous working conditions.  Many young men died in factories and on construction sites without notice.

Fr. McGivney, a young associate pastor at the time, only 29, was assigned to St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven.  What set him apart from his brother priests was not his physical strength, or his academic performance, or his eloquence in the pulpit.  Simply put, the young Fr. McGivney believed in Christ and had a passion for his people.  He loved them as the a shepherd loves his sheep.  And he had a burning desire to lead them.  Even though his health was not the best, he was determined to lead the parishioners, and particularly give spiritual support to struggling families.

So, recognizing that he had to take action to help these men and these families, he called a small group of men together at the parish on October 2, 1881.  He expressed his desire to start a lay, fraternal organization which would be of spiritual and financial assistance to the men and their families.  He wanted these families to thrive in the faith and grown in security.  He knew that this would not be an easy task in the midst of such an anti-Catholic culture.  Yet he persisted, and in 1882 the Knights of Columbus were founded.  Today they are a world-wide fraternal order whose mission it is to assist in charity the vulnerable, the unborn, the marginalized, and the mentally disabled.  They joyfully offer millions of hours of service to be present and help the needed, and they give millions of dollars whenever a need presents itself.  All because one man persisted, humbly, and filled with grace, to provide effective pastoral leadership.

These comments are not intended to be an advertisement for the Knights, but rather an insight into the courageous witness, generosity, and leadership that Fr. McGivney provided for his people. Fr. McGivney so desired for his parishioners to be well fed spiritually and stable financially that he expended himself day after day without grumbling.  His pastoral leadership was marked with a steadfast faith, irrepressible joy, and endless creativity.  Fr. McGivney would only live to be 38, dying from the impact of steady pastoral work and pneumonia.  He did not engage in all of these activities simply because he needed something to do.  He believed in Christ and deeply desired to lead others to Christ as well.

I draw attention to the example of Fr. McGivney to shed light on what a man of faith, a self-less servant, what a true shepherd who understands the importance of pastoral leadership, looks like for our work here.

The anti-Catholicism that Fr. McGivney faced has many similarities with the challenges we face today as we form the next generation of pastoral leaders.  The priests, deacons, and lay leaders who walk out of our doors need to be on fire with a passion for the Lord and who will not be afraid to lead.  Formation in pastoral leadership, again, is not simply about a skill-set or developing a particular personality, but rather our work to form a person who has allowed themselves to be touched by Christ, with a desire to encounter Christ, to love Christ, and in faith, to lead others to Christ.  The reason Fr. McGivney stands out for us as a compelling model is that he understood so clearly that genuine pastoral leadership means sacrifice of self.  Effective pastoral leadership means putting others before ourselves.  Pastoral leadership means being attentive to the small, mundane tasks of ‘family life’ and doing them faithfully, joyfully, and freely day in and day out.     

 

Strategic Initiatives

At this point, having reflected on the gift of faith and one of our heroic witnesses, the Venerable Fr. McGivney, it is now time to turn toward some of the practical, strategic initiatives for the coming year.  Our strategic initiatives emerge from deep reflection on our mission the creative insights of all of you.  As we live and work our Strategic Plan, we recognize that it is a dynamic document that keeps us focused and inspired.  It keeps us accountable as an institution and helps us share the many riches with which we have been blessed.

Pastoral Leadership Working Group 

Last year, I asked Msgr. Dan Trapp to lead a working group whose task it was to review the pastoral formation program and make recommendations for any changes.  With gratitude to Msgr. Trapp for his leadership and the dedicated cooperation of the members of the committee, a number of recommendations were presented to the faculty in the Spring regarding modifications to the field education sequence, the parish internships, and the goals of the program.  These were all presented to the Archbishop and the Episcopal Council at the end of the year (June).  

Among the recommendations already approved that will improve the pastoral formation of the seminarians are:  a new sequence for the field education that will go into effect this fall; and the inclusion of pastoral leadership modules given by expert facilitators from Good Leaders Good Shepherds that is being conducted this week.  These modifications will certainly improve the preparation of our future priests to be good, effective leaders and shepherds. 

Included in the recommendations by the committee was the addition of a pastoral year during theology.  While receiving the recommendation well, the Archbishop and the Episcopal Council asked for some additional consideration of how a propedeutic year (to address either growth in the human virtues and discernment or growth in the spiritual life) might work together with the proposed pastoral year.

In order to address this fully and respond to the request of the Archbishop and Episcopal Council, I have asked Msgr. Trapp to assemble the same working group again this year and explore these specific questions.  I am very excited that the general reception of the recommendations from last year were positive, and I look forward to the additional work this committee will do in this important area.  We ask the Lord to bless the work of this committee, and particularly the intercession of Fr. McGivney, so that we can form faith-filled witnesses and strong pastoral leaders for our people.  

On-Line STL

A second strategic initiative for the coming year will be the proximate preparation for the new, innovative delivery of the STL.  With the approval of the Congregation in the late Spring, we were given an incredible opportunity to provide the richness of the STL in the New Evangelization in a way that reaches so many more people.  In our proposal, we stated clearly that the new program arose from three fundamental priorities:

To advance the mission of the Church

To engage the call for a New Evangelization in creative ways

To make the STL more accessible for students, thus enabling Bishops from around the world to give more serious consideration to the program.

 

Thanks to the support of the Archbishop, the efforts of Fr. Laboe, and the work of the faculty and staff, we can now enthusiastically prepare for this new program that will begin in the summer of 2014.  It will be a combination of 4 summer residential periods here at Sacred Heart along with on-line courses during the regular semesters.  We are excited about the potential for this new program and will work closely with the Archbishop and the bishops from around the country to present a program that will move hearts to Christ.

I have asked Fr. Laboe to continue the leadership of these important preparations.  He will work closely with marketing, admissions, technology, and the faculty to be certain that we capitalize on this great gift, this opportunity to lead in a way that is fresh and new.  In doing so, I ask that he gather members from these departments and meet monthly through the course of the year and give regular status reports to the Administrative Council and Faculty.  

 

D.Min

Another exciting initiative for Sacred Heart will be the formal establishment of a D.Min. exploratory committee.  For a number of years, the faculty have discussed the possibility of the addition of the degree program.  Any consideration of a new degree program has to begin with our mission.  We are steadfast in our mission to form priests according to the Herat of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd and further, to prepare priests, deacons and lay ecclesial ministers, equipping them for the work of ministry in the New Evangelization.

The work of ministry and the engagement with our contemporary culture means forming those who will prepared to ‘bear the light of truth’ with an irrepressible joy, a clarity about the freedom that comes with living in the light of truth, and leading people to a deeper intimacy with the Trinity.  To give sustained consideration to this possibility is exciting.  Does a DMin fit our mission?  Do we have the resources and students?  These are just a few of the important questions that the exploratory committee will need to address.

Fr. Laboe and Janet Diaz have already begun the preparatory work for this exploratory committee, and they will be joined by Dr. Patricia Cooney-Hathaway and Dr. Michael McCallion, meeting on a regular basis this year to study the Degree Program Standards of the Association of Theological Schools, consider the human, financial, and institutional resources available, and also any collaborations that might bring with it a uniqueness to the DMin program from Sacred Heart.  By establishing the exploratory committee, we do commit ourselves to the degree program, but we will certainly have a serious, sustained study and discussion about it.  I look forward the recommendations from the committee at the end of the year.

 

2019 Centenary

Finally, in 2019 Sacred Heart Major Seminary will celebrate 100 years of excellence in the formation of priests, deacons and lay ecclesial ministers.  The years leading up to and after 2019 will be a time for us to celebrate the way in which God’s grace has prompted the diocesan leadership, the faculty, and the students to keep focus on the mission of Sacred Heart.  As St. Paul reminds us in the same letter I began with:  “It is not ourselves that we preach, but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as servants for his sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).  We have been able to exist and engage in our work of formation because of outpouring of grace that continues to give us strength and joy for our ministry.  

During almost 100 years we have seen a innumerable changes in our country, our state and our city.  And with each passing generation Sacred Heart has responded.  I have asked Dave Kelley to take the initial steps of investigating how we might approach this once-in-a-lifetime marker for the institution.  It will be a long process, and in this first year, according to our Strategic Plan, he will be responsible for the pre-planning, or the remote preparation for what will be a multifaceted celebration.  And so, for lack of a better description, it will be a “pre-planning for the pre-planning.”  

 

 

Institutional Activities

At this point, I want to note some specific institutional activities that will be a part of our life here this year.  We have a number of activities, but these next few items are noteworthy as the academic year unfolds.

Accreditation

The first is a visit by our two accrediting agencies this March.  We spent all of last year working in small committees, reviewing the many documents, reviewing data, and then presenting drafts of sections for the Self-Study.  It is not an easy task and it can, at times, be a burden.  But one of the many blessings is that it gives strength, force and relevance to our Strategic Planning.  During years when an institution has a comprehensive visit, it ought not be a moment of anxiety, but rather motivation to improve.  

The unique part of the visit this year is that there will be two!  Each agency will have its own week (March 10-12 for HLC and March 17-20 for ATS).  That means two separate Self-Studies, one for each agency.  We are blessed in so many ways and the Self-Studies highlight those blessings.  Please note that you will need to be available on those days.

Horarium

Last year I noted that we would be making some modifications to the Horarium for the seminarians.  The goals were to deepen the spiritual life of the seminarians through daily adoration and to develop genuine fraternal bonds through a weekly family meal.  The changes have been, for the most part, well received.  But as with any change, we needed to be flexible and open to alternatives.  After consulting with the students and formators, we made some additional modifications for the coming year that will also have a benefit for the faculty, staff, and commuter population. This year, we will add an additional hour of exposition to our daily life, from 4:00pm-5:00 in the main chapel on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each week.  As in the morning Holy Hour, it will begin with a reading from the Gospel of the day but then be silent for the rest of the hour.  I see in this modification a great blessing for our community.  For example, at the conclusion of the work day at 4:30pm, staff members could make a short visit in prayer before the drive home; or faculty members as they take a break from class preparations can gaze on the Lord and be inspired in their midst of their wok, or commuter students will have the opportunity to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and bring to this house a greater awareness of God’s presence and an awakening of our own faith.

Track

Finally, I need to mention the recreational track.  Last year, Mr. Duncan, Fr. Cassidy, Fr. Burr and I met on a number of occasions to work through the possibility of a recreational track around the sports field.  I was clear that we needed the funds before we could even consider the possibility.  But with the good start from the Gala dinner a few years ago and recent gifts designated for the track, we will move forward with this exciting project.

I will share plans with the faculty and then the Board of Trustees prior to meeting with the College of Consultors.  Once we receive approval, it is my hope that we could begin construction of the track at some point in the Spring.   

 

New Faculty and Members of SHMS

The last section of the address will highlight a central blessing of Sacred Heart Major Seminary:  the faculty and staff who share so generously their lives and talents for the sake of the Gospel.  

Dr. Ilaria Ramelli

We are blessed to welcome to Sacred Heart, and to the United States, the new Bishop Kevin Britt Chair in Christology, Dr. Ilaria Ramelli.  Many of us had the chance to meet Dr. Ramelli in March when she came for a lecture and interviews.  Dr. Ramelli brings with her a prolific list of publications, but beyond the significant contributions she makes through her research and publishing, it is her zeal for evangelization and  the desire to be a part of a faculty whose mission it is to form the faithful witnesses.  Dr. Ramelli shares in our passion for Christ and our passion to be joyful bearers of the light of truth.

Fr. Charlie Fox

Fr. Charlie Fox comes to Sacred Heart after two assignments:  one at St. Hugo of the Hills as Associate Pastor, and the other as priest secretary to the Archbishop.  Fr. Fox will work closely with Fr. Burr and Fr. Canoy as an advisor for undergraduate seminarians and also complete his work on the STL.  I remain grateful to the Archbishop for his willingness to let Fr. Fox take on this new assignment here at the seminary and also for his generosity, especially when there are so many other pressures for assignments. 

Mr. David Policelli

If you have not met him yet, Mr. Policelli joined Sacred Heart over the summer in the IT office.  He came highly recommended for his extensive knowledge but even more for his gentle spirit and desire to be of service.  During the summer months he became acclimated well to the institution and we look forward to the many contributions he will make in the years to come.

Mrs. Tamra Perzanowski

Finally, we are happy to welcome Tamra Perzanowski to the Business Office.  Like Mr. Policelli, Tamra arrived as the summer began but has already settled in well.  She brings with her a wealth of experience, competence in a variety of areas regarding the Business Office, and a warm hospitality.  We are certainly blessed with all of these new members of  the Sacred Heart Community.

Conclusion

I bring this address to a conclusion with a brief passage from the Letter to the Hebrews.  In that passage, we hear the encouraging words to run the race that lies before us with faith and joy, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.  To look steadily “at the one who inspires and perfects our faith, the One who has endured the opposition of sinners.  Long before us, countless others (‘cloud of witnesses’) have done this and have been tested even more severely than we have.” We do so with an authentic joy that manifests our confidence in the presence and sovereignty of God.  And so, with a faith born of the encounter with Christ, let us awake the dawn of the new school year, welcome Christ into our hearts, and joyfully bear the light of truth.

I ask that we read together this passage.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden of sin that clings to us -

and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.

For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.

Consider how he enduring such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.