Three years ago, when Father Seamus retired, our Saint Patrick Catholic Church & School community found itself in an unfamiliar position – there wasn’t another priest waiting in the wings to jump into the role of pastor. The bishop appointed Kevin Lovejoy as our pastoral coordinator and our local Jesuit community stepped forward to help us through the transition, appointing Father John Fuchs, S.J.; Father Tom Lamanna, S.J. and Father Jerry Graham, S.J. as our parish priests. Their role was primarily to celebrate the sacraments with us as we waited for a new pastor. Of course, we all know our Jesuits have done so much more. The three of them along with Father Pete Henriot, S.J. and Father Jim Harbaugh, S.J. and others have faithfully served us these past years. However, there is no doubt that one of them has been asked to go far beyond the original intention of this arrangement.
- I have to wonder if Fr Jerry knew what he was getting into when he began his ministry here at our parish. Did he know what an impact he would have on our community?
- He celebrated weekly liturgies and wrote countless homilies that would encourage us not just to look for Jesus inside ourselves but to find Him and serve Him in the least of his people.
- Fr Jerry celebrated many funerals, bringing comfort to the grieving and reminding us all that our love can’t be complete here, but only in heaven.
- He made hundreds of home visits and hospital calls, bringing Jesus to us when we were sick and dying.
- He stood over the font and baptized countless children in the name of Jesus, welcoming them to our faith community and sparing no holy oils in the process.
- He shepherded dozens through the RCIA process— gently guiding them to the Easter sacraments and an understanding of what a lived faith can mean.
- And how about the Stephen Ministers he has helped form so they are better able to care for those among us in need of support?
- I wonder if he knew how many meetings he would attend— and there were many! But did he know that he would start discussions that would lead to deeper insight and more intentional decisions?
- Did he know how many hearts he would touch? How many minds he would open? How many lives he would change?
- Did he know that he would help the Saint Patrick faith community discover the “mission that has us” as opposed to what we thought our mission should be?
- I wonder if he knew that he would become a beloved part of this community— someone we respect and look to for support and empowerment? Someone who would remind us that we are called to serve God in all that we do?
Fr Jerry, we certainly hope you know how much you will be missed. And we hope you know how grateful we are for the time you have spent with us. We are better for it. And we wish you every blessing as you leave us and begin your ministry to the very lucky parishioners of St. Aloysius in Spokane, WA
Pastoral Assistant for Liturgy, Funerals, Pastoral Care
Here are a few other expressions of thank you and fond farewells recently—