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2018

October 12, 2018

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

Dear Friends in Christ,

One of my favorite mysteries of the Rosary is the fifth Joyful Mystery, the boy Jesus found in the Temple by Mary and Joseph. Jesus was around 12 years old at the time. He got separated from his parents on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and they finally found him in the Temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.” Luke 2:46-47.

This mystery of the Rosary strikes me because it truly is “joyful” in the richest sense. God the Father sends his son in human flesh to dwell among us. He is like us in all things, but sin. In this event, we see Jesus being formed as a good and faithful Jewish boy. At the same time, through this encounter with the religious leaders in the Temple, they too are being formed by him. In this way, they too are being prepared for the coming of the Christ into the world. People were astounded by him; how could you not be?

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus encounters a rich young man; who happens to also be a good and faithful Jewish man. However, Jesus notices that he lacks one thing: his focus on his possessions causes him to hold back in giving his life to God. He seemingly walks away from discipleship because he is unable to give his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus. Jesus doesn’t run after him and clarify things. No, he lets him go his way to reflect upon his choice. But notice that during Jesus’ encounter with him, the Lord looked “at him, and loved him.” Although he walked away, I like to think that Jesus’ love for him likely softened his heart in God’s good time. I’ve always sensed a feeling of hope that he was eventually able to trust in the Lord’s teaching: that the fulfillment of the law is found in freely following Jesus, with no encumbrances in the way, like money, fame, or possessions. All encounters with the Lord Jesus affect us in some way. They form us and prepare us for the coming of the Kingdom and its fulfillment in love of God and neighbor. And every encounter with the Lord Jesus in prayer and sacrament is an opportunity for us to grow as faithful disciples.

Blessings for the week ahead.

Fr. David Mulholland

October 5, 2018

October – A Month Dedicated to Praying the Holy Rosary

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the Rosary, we ponder the life of Jesus through the eyes of his mother. This is an incredibly powerful experience if we enter into it fully. – Matthew Kelly

If we enter into it fully . . . how we all wish to enter into prayer more deeply and fully. Yet, we often battle with distraction, time constraints, temptations, and yes, even sloth! This is especially true of the prayer of the Rosary. Many people, myself included, find it difficult to find the time and the focus necessary to pray this beautiful biblical prayer. But at the same time, I have discovered that the things most difficult to undertake are the things that are most beneficial to me! And this is very true when speaking of the Rosary. Our Lady desires to show us many things, if we just give her our attention.
October is a month when the Church has always recommended praying the Rosary, as a means to recommit ourselves to this prayer or to start a new practice of prayer. This year, the Holy Father, in a special way, has asked us to pray the Rosary especially for the healing of the Church. To that end, Pope Francis has asked that as we conclude the Rosary with the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen), we also pray the Prayer to Saint Michael, the Archangel to protect us and the Church from evil, as well as pray the oldest known prayer to the Blessed Virgin, the Sub Tuum Praesidium: “Under thy protection we seek refuge, O Holy Mother of God; In our needs, despise not our petitions, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.”

Let’s take heed of the Holy Father’s recommendation. Pray the Rosary daily this month. And add those prayers seeking the powerful intercession of Saint Michael and Mary, who defend us and protect us from the evil serpent. May the practice of praying the Rosary and following the life of Jesus with His mother, Mary, deepen your life of prayer. May it be beneficial to us and to the Church! An may we enter into it fully!

God bless,
Fr. David Mulholland

September 28, 2018

A Reflection Upon the Church by Carlo Carretto (from The God Who Comes, 1974)

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last week, the priests of the Archdiocese prayed the Stations of the Cross with Archbishop Sartain at Saint James Cathedral. The meditation at the beginning of the prayer time was from an Italian religious writer, Carlo Carretto. It is well worth sharing with you for your reflection about the state of our Church, not just in these current days of crisis, but for all times!

“How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you! How you have made me suffer and yet how much I owe you! You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand what sanctity is. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and yet I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful.

No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you. And besides, where would I go? Would I establish another? I would not be able to establish it without the same faults, for they are the same faults I carry in me.

The Church has the power to make me holy but it is made up, from the first to the last, only of sinners. It brings a message of pure transparency but it is incarnated in mud, for such is the substance of the world. When I was young, I did not understand why Jesus chose Peter as his successor, the first Pope, even though he abandoned Him. Now I am no longer surprised and I understand that by founding his Church on the tomb of a traitor he was warning each of us to remain humble, by making us aware of our fragility.”

Blessings for the week ahead,
Fr. David Mulholland

September 21, 2018

Dear Friends in Christ,

Notice that I addressed you as ‘Friends in Christ,” for that is what you are. As your pastor, one of the ways I relate to you is as friends; and especially as my friends who share our common bond as members of the Body of Christ, the baptized! As Catholics today, we need friends as we persevere in our lives amidst a world that is often in opposition to us and what we believe. Friends stick together and help each other during such times. Friends make the rough going a little easier.

Some of the friends that we don’t often think about are our heavenly friends. We all have patron saints or favorite saints that we might invoke from time to time. Saint Anthony finds our lost things or Saint Jude bails us out of the impossible situation. In reality of course, they intercede before God on our behalf. But have you ever invoked the holy angels? Specifically, your guardian angel and the archangels? They too are our friends, ready to help us in our need.

This coming Saturday, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Archangels, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael. And each of the Archangels can be invoked for specific needs in terms of prayer. Saint Michael comes to our aid when we are oppressed by the evil one, who seeks to lie to us and deceive us, and draw us away from the Lord. Prayer to Saint Michael is powerful!
“Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell, Satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen!”

Saint Gabriel, who came with messages to Mary and Joseph, is one to invoke when we ask God to reveal what we need to know about ourselves, others or situations. He can aid us by praying that we might have open hearts to receive all that God wants to show us. And Saint Raphael is one to invoke for healing; whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. He is the archangel that helps to open us to receive all of God’s healing grace!

This coming week, take note of all your friends. Those close by and those far away. Even those who are saintly and angelic in heaven! For as members of God’s family, our friends are always there to help us in our need.

God bless,
Fr. David Mulholland

September 14, 2018

The Call of Saint Matthew​ by Caravaggio

Dear Friends in Christ,

This coming Friday, we will celebrate the Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Saint Matthew was a tax collector and an unlikely candidate for Apostle, Gospel writer, and saint. But that’s the way it is with most saints! The above painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio, shows Jesus coming out of the shadows and casting a beam of light upon the chosen one; the sinner, tax collector, Matthew, who in turn points to himself as if to say, “who, me?” Yes, you, Matthew. The Lord Jesus chooses you to be His witness; to be His Apostle; to be His evangelizer to the world; to be His saint down to our very day.

God often chooses the most unlikely of people to be His witnesses in our chaotic and disordered world. As I have said often, in times of crisis and challenge, God raises up saints; holy men and women of all times and places, to bring about change and re focus our attention on the Lord Jesus at precisely the times where it is needed the most. I have no doubt that God is doing the same right now in our Church and in our world. In many ways, we are far from God and His desires for our joy and hope. But He will raise up holy men and women to remind us of who we are: God’s beloved sons and daughters. Theses saints among us are filled with the Holy Spirit’s love and courage to bring us back to our senses and call us live holy lives. It would be good for us to be a discerning people, open to listen to the saints among us. And who are these saints? Well, they’re everywhere and they may in fact be you!

God bless,
Fr. David Mulholland

September 7, 2018

Ephphatha! – Be opened!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened.’

Bishop Robert Barron has pointed out that in modern times (from the 18th to 20th centuries) Jesus has often been portrayed more in terms of being an ethical teacher and moral guide. This makes him less threatening and more palatable to people. This Jesus places few demands on us, unless you disagree with his ethical and moral teachings, as is increasingly the case in the 21st Century!

But this view of Jesus is very one dimensional. Jesus’ primary method of engaging people took place during his preaching and especially in his healing ministry. And by healing, I am speaking of healing the whole person; physical, emotional, and spiritual. What’s important for us to remember is that Jesus’ healing ministry did not end with his ascension into Heaven. It continues in the Church down to this day. Furthermore, the salvation offered by Jesus does not just encompass the dimension of belief and faith, but also of healing. Jesus is the healer, the soter, which in Latin means Salvator or the “bearer of the salus” or health. Thus, salvation is literally a state of being healed; restored to health and wholeness. The “salvation” offered as a free gift to us is the Lord Jesus’ desire that we be saved – literally restored to the wholeness of our God given human condition. In short, Jesus calls us to eternal life, but also an abundance of life right now.

My friends, Jesus desires that we live in a state of “Ephphatha” in that we be opened to the healing he offers us. In whatever way you are burdened, whether physical, spiritual or emotional, Jesus will heal you if you open your heart to this grace. He desires your salvation; your health and wholeness!

Fr. David Mulholland

August 31, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Since I was serving chaplain for the priest retreat at the Palisades last week, this week’s Pastor Letter will be brief!  I simply want to share with you the quote from Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, that I mentioned at the end of my homily at Saint Rita and Saint Pat’s last weekend.  She speaks of how God raises up saints at just the right times in history. I found a quote from Pope Benedict along those same lines for your reflection. Friends, we are all called to be saints; to be the holy men and women that God raises up to be instruments of his healing grace to our families, our community, our Church and the world.  These are powerful words to ponder along the way:

As a convert, I never expected much of bishops.  In all history, popes and bishops and father abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy. I never expected leadership from them. It is the saints that keep appearing all ough history who keep things going. What I do expect is the bread of life and down through the ages there is that continuity.Venerable Dorothy Day

The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith. The future of the Church, once again as always, will be shaped by saints, by those, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality.Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Blessings for the week ahead!

Fr. David Mulholland

August 24, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Jesus Teaching on the Bread Life
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
“Live in love, as Christ loved us.” Ephesians 5:2
“{Peter said} Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69

Our readings this week speak of the nature of faith amid doubt, confusion, oppression, and even opposition.It’s something most people can relate to on any number of levels. Frankly, despite the current crisis in the Church, it’s always been challenging to be a Christian and a member of the body of Christ. I am alwaysreminded that following the Lord Jesus means to follow Him in all things. To share in His glory, certainly!But that glory only comes after sharing in His suffering and passion. After all, Jesus says, “take up your cross and follow me.”

A priest friend from Phoenix, Fr. John Lankeit, preached a powerful homily last week about the sexual abuse crisis. He had the opportunity to meet with a woman last week who is a victim of abuse by a priest. She remains a faithful Catholic to this day because her suffering, down through the years, has been united toChrist’s own suffering; she knows that Jesus has suffered with her and for her. Fr. Lankeit made an importantobservation: That she and all abuse victims reside in the suffering heart of Christ. Anyone who suffers, resides in the heart of Christ. To dwell there is to dwell in the Church, the body of Christ and the wellspringof the sacraments. It’s a place of sacred encounter with the wounded healer. No matter what our sufferingmay be, we all have a home in the suffering, pierced heart of the Lord Jesus.

Please pray for me and my brother priests on a “Healing the Whole Person Retreat” at the Palisades thisweek. Please also pray for all who are hurting and wounded. Let us live in love, as Christ loved us.

Fr David Mulholland

August 17, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Temptation of Christ

My heart is broken as I write these words to you. Last night (Tuesday, August 14), I began reading the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, detailing child sexual abuse by priests in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. Over 1,000 victims; 300 priest offenders; over a 70-year time frame. It also details the cover up by bishops, priests, and administrative officials. So far in my reading, I have not seen of anyone calling the police. Yes, it was a different time and place. But crime has always been crime. All of this is difficult to take in and process. But I will share with you my initial thoughts.

This ongoing story has been a part of my priesthood since my ordination in 2002, when the revelations of abuse in Boston came to light. Then, when I served as vicar for clergy, I was exposed to the abuse crisis in our own Archdiocese. I read the files. I served on our Archdiocesan Review Board. Our office worked with and monitored priests on prayer and penance. Others, especially Archbishop Brunett and Archbishop Sartain, met with victims. I am happy to have played a small part in the new formation, trainings (for priests and lay people alike), policies, and procedures that make our current local church a model for providing a safe environment in our parishes and schools.

But I have never seen anything like this new report from Pennsylvania. It is sinful, diabolical, and horrendous. The report itself begins with these words: “We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this.” I couldn’t agree more. Whether you take a stab at reading the report, or read a story in the media about the report, it does need to be heard. Whatever is in the darkness, must be brought to the light. That in itself is a first step in going forward. As painful as it is, we all must hear and take heed of the past. But I also think that our first reactions must come from a place of clarity and conviction; from a place of faith and hope.

Above is a painting of the temptation of Christ by the devil. After his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus was led into the desert and tempted by Satan. The enemy of our human nature whispered into our Lord’s ear the same words he whispers to us when we are confronted with things like this grand jury report: “Give up! It’s not worth it! Follow me instead!”

In light of the terrible news of sexual abuse of children by clergy; the very ones who were entrusted with the faith and education of God’s little ones, we can be tempted to just give up on the whole thing. The enemy tells us to give up on a rotten, sinful, and ruined Church; he tells us to give up on Christ’s priests, bishops, religious and lay leaders. He tells us to give up on each other and the rest of humanity’s lost. He tells us they’ll be better off without Christ and His Church.

For us, we must muster the faith and hope that is given to us in our Baptism to respond to Satan with our own conviction: “To hell with you, Satan. In Jesus’ name be gone!” Why do I say this? Because each and every one of us is needed now more than ever. Each of us, in our own way and calling, is needed to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Having heard all the sins and all the brokenness, we must be open to how God will use us to bring His healing grace to all who need it.

Who needs that grace? Who needs us? Well, first, the victims of all sexual abuse need us. They need to know that they are known. They need to know that we love them and will listen to their stories. They need to know we are sorry. They need to know that we are here for them and will help them to open their hearts and lives to healing and wholeness. Where and who are they? They are everywhere. They are your friends, neighbors, and family members. They might be you. Who did this to them? Offenders include priests, bishops, religious sisters and brothers, and lay employees as well. Offenders also include family members, neighbors, teachers, coaches etc. The problem is widespread. The victims need us. They need us to listen and hear them. And they need our faith and hope that Jesus heals all wounds.

Who else needs us? The vast majority of good, holy priests, bishops and religious who have been called and who have given their lives for the good news of the gospel. They need to know that their calling is right, good, noble and needed for the salvation of the world. That’s what the Church is ultimately about. And the institutional Church needs us. It needs us to call for and lead reform. The Church needs her members, clergy, religious and lay alike, to be renewed in their commitment to healing the wounds created long ago. And all God’s people need us. The faithful and unfaithful; the lost, fallen away, the hopeless and forgotten. Everyone for whom Christ died on the cross needs us to make the message of salvation known, accepted and received. As Saint Catherine of Sienna would say, now is the time to rebuke the enemy and his minions, and to pray for courage and strength; to pray in reparation and penance for the sins of the past and for guidance going forward toward a future full of hope. Friends, don’t give up. We are needed!

Fr. David Mulholland

So, What Do We Do Now— a follow-up to the Pastor Letter of August 17, 2018

So, What Do We Do Now?

Dear Friends in Christ,

As a follow up to my pastor letter, I want to share with you an article that I think will help us move forward. It’s at least a good place to start. The recent revelations concerning Archbishop McCarrick and the history of abuse in Pennsylvania, both in terms of behavior and leadership, have shown that the problems of the past have not been sufficiently dealt with. It also shows that the Church, as a human institution, and her shepherds, are in need of further repentance, conversion and healing. A lot has been written about this in the past few weeks. There’s a lot of blame, accusations, as well as simple reasons and solutions given by many commentators. The following article by Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, is a good place for any Catholic to begin to sort all this out and to then begin to pray going forward.

Fr. David Mulholland

THE McCARRICK MESS
by Bishop Robert Barron

When I was going through school, the devil was presented to us as a myth, a literary device, a symbolic manner of signaling the presence of evil in the world. I will admit to internalizing this view and largely losing my sense of the devil as a real spiritual person. What shook my agnosticism in regard to the evil one was the clerical sex abuse scandal of the nineties and the early 2000’s. I say this because that awful crisis just seemed too thought-through, too well-coordinated, to be simply the result of chance or wicked human choice. The devil is characterized as “the enemy of the human race” and particularly the enemy of the Church. I challenge anyone to come up with a more devastatingly effective strategy for attacking the mystical body of Christ than the abuse of children and young people by priests. This sin had countless direct victims of course, but it also crippled the Church financially, undercut vocations, caused people to lose confidence in Christianity, dramatically compromised attempts at evangelization, etc., etc. It was a diabolical masterpiece.

Sometime in the early 2000’s, I was attending a conference and found myself wandering more or less alone in the area where groups and organizations had their booths. I came over to one of the tables and the woman there said, “You’re Fr. Barron, aren’t you?” I replied affirmatively, and she continued, “You’re doing good work for the Church, but this means that the devil wants to stop you. And you know, he’s a lot smarter than you are and a lot more powerful.” I think I just mumbled something to her at that moment, but she was right, and I knew it. All of this has come back to me in the wake of the Archbishop McCarrick catastrophe. St. Paul warned us that we battle, not against flesh and blood, but against “powers and principalities.” Consequently, the principal work of the Church at this devastating moment ought to be prayer, the conscious and insistent invoking of Christ and the saints.

Now I can hear people saying, “So Bishop Barron is blaming it all on the devil.” Not at all. The devil works through temptation, suggestion, and insinuation—and he accomplishes nothing without our cooperation. If you want to see the principle illustrated, Google Luca Signorelli’s image of the Antichrist in the Orvieto Cathedral. You’ll see what I mean. Archbishop McCarrick did wicked things and so did those, it appears, who enabled him. And we have to come to terms with these sins.

Before I broach the subject of how to do this, permit me to say a few words about unhelpful strategies being bandied about. A first one is indiscriminate scapegoating. The great philosopher René Girard taught us that when communities enter into crisis, people typically commence desperately to cast about for someone or some group to blame. In the catharsis of this indiscriminate accusation, they find a kind of release, an ersatz peace. “All the bishops should resign!” “The priesthood is a cesspool of immorality!” “The seminaries are all corrupt!” As I say, these assertions might be emotionally satisfying at some level, but they are deeply unjust and conduce toward greater and not less dysfunction. The second negative strategy is the riding of ideological hobby horses. So lots of commentators—left, center, and right—have chimed in to say that the real cause of the McCarrick disaster is, take your pick, the ignoring of Humanae Vitae, priestly celibacy, rampant homosexuality in the Church, the mistreatment of homosexuals, the sexual revolution, etc. Mind you, I’m not saying for a moment that these aren’t important considerations and that some of the suggestions might not have real merit. But I am saying that launching into a consideration of these matters that we have been debating for decades and that will certainly not admit of an easy adjudication, amounts right now to a distraction.

So what should be done? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has no juridical or canonical authority to discipline bishops. And even if it tried to launch an investigation, it has, at the moment, very little credibility. Only the Pope has juridical and disciplinary powers in regard to bishops. Hence, I would suggest (as a lowly back-bencher auxiliary) that the bishops of the United States—all of us—petition the Holy Father to form a team, made up mostly of faithful lay Catholics skilled in forensic investigation, and to empower them to have access to all of the relevant documentation and financial records. Their task should be to determine how Archbishop McCarrick managed, despite his widespread reputation for iniquity, to rise through the ranks of the hierarchy and to continue, in his retirement years, to function as a roving ambassador for the Church and to have a disproportionate influence on the appointment of bishops. They should ask the ecclesial version of Sen. Howard Baker’s famous questions: “What did the responsible parties know and when did they know it?” Only after these matters are settled will we know what the next steps ought to be. In the meantime, and above all, we should ask the heavenly powers to fight with us and for us. I might suggest especially calling upon the one who crushes the head of the serpent.

Additional Information

August 10, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I can resonate a bit with our first reading this Sunday, from the First Book of Kings: “Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death, saying, ‘This is enough, O Lord!’”

That’s exactly how I felt last Saturday night into Sunday morning, when I was hit hard with a stomach virus.  I didn’t really pray for death, although I felt deathly sick, but I did say, “Enough Lord!” I realized that by 6:00 a.m., I could not celebrate the Sunday Masses.  So I made a couple calls and our amazing staff at all three parishes sprang into action. Deacon Bill Eckert was able to lead a communion service at St. Rita, while our parish staff members were able to secure enough Eucharist for the service and then make the calls necessary to find a priest to celebrate the other Masses during the day.  I am grateful to Fr. Alan Yost, SJ, from St Leo’s for filling in on such short notice! Everyone was so helpful and rallied around to make sure the people of God were well taken care of, so we could give due worship and praise to Him who sustains us and heals us!

As I was on my sick bed, I realized that this has never happened to me before.  I have never been sick on a weekend where I could not celebrate Mass. Then I realized that I haven’t missed a Sunday Mass in over 20 years!  Last Sunday, as the day came to an end, I realized that I really missed Sunday! I missed being with you and I missed receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Although, similar to Elijah, I had angelic people bring me soup and drinks, I really missed the life giving sustenance of the Divine Physician, the Lord Jesus!  As our Gospel today tells us, Jesus, the bread of life, has given us his “flesh for the life of the world.” That is so true! He gives us life; he sustains us; he restores and heals!  May we always appreciate such a great gift, every Sunday!

Blessings,

Fr. David Mulholland

August 3, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we continue with Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse in Chapter 6 of Saint John’s Gospel, the Church reminds us of all the ways God our Father as provided for our needs since the beginning of time. As we know Jesus is the bread of life come down from heaven, the Church has us recall one of the first times God provided bread for his people. In the first reading from the Book of Exodus, the Lord God told Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portions….” And all of God’s generosity was in response to the Israelite community’s grumbling and complaining. That goes to show you that nothing about our fallen human nature has changed! We still grumble and complain against God, yet he still showers his love and mercy upon us. That’s because his love is unconditional! And most importantly, despite our complaining; despite our sinfulness and our waywardness, the Father sent his son Jesus to be our savior and healer. The one who is the true bread from heaven came to save us and nourish us. Jesus tells us “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” His promise is eternal!

As God provided sustenance for the people of Israel in the desert, so he offers us the same in the desert of our own society, culture and lives. The Lord Jesus offers himself to us at every celebration of the Mass. The offer is made and it’s up to us to respond in faith and belief….and to make our “Amen” truly an acceptance of God’s generous and loving care for us.

May you be open to God’s loving care in the week ahead!

Fr. David Mulholland

July 27, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For the next several weeks, the Sunday gospel will be taken from Chapter 6 of Saint John’s Gospel. It has traditionally been known as Jesus’ “Bread of Life Discourse.” In this teaching, the Lord makes it very clear that he is the “bread of life” come down from Heaven for us and our salvation. He says that his flesh is given for the life of the world, and that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink. Furthermore, our Lord says that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we do not have life within us. This is a radical teaching; it is a hard teaching. And consequently, many left him and followed another way. And likewise, many do today as well. But Jesus remained faithful to this teaching. And it provides the basis for our understanding of how the Lord is truly present with us in the Eucharist…..body, blood, soul and divinity, for us.

The bread of life discourse begins with a miracle; the feeding of the five thousand with some meager bread and fish. If the Eucharist is the greatest miracle (simple bread and wine becoming the body and blood of the Lord), then it is appropriate that our Lord’s teaching should itself begin with a miracle. In the weeks ahead, I would encourage you to get out your bible and spend some time reflecting upon Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what you need to know, so that you can more fully appreciate his presence in the Eucharist, so that your encounter with him in Holy Communion may be more intimate, authentic, and nourishing. Stay tuned for how the Lord Jesus will bless you in these weeks that we hear his beautiful teaching proclaimed at Mass!

Blessings to you all for the week ahead!

Fr David Mulholland

July 20, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am now two weeks into my ministry here at Saint Patrick and Saint Rita parishes. So far, so good! I have really enjoyed these weeks and they have been very eventful. I have also enjoyed getting to know many of you. Learning your names will be a challenge for me, so please be patient and remind me of your name when I see you. I especially encourage all new parishioners to introduce yourself to me, to Deacon Bill and parish staff so we can get to know you.

This weekend also marks my first Sunday Masses at Holy Cross Parish as well. When I met with Archbishop Sartain in March, I found out that I would be pastor of Saint Patrick and Saint Rita parishes. As you know, our two parishes have been working closely for the past year on how to collaborate under the leadership of a single pastor. Then, the awful news of the death of Fr. Michael Wagner created a new challenge. Having served as Vicar for Clergy, I know that the priest assignments are always challenging, but even more so when something unexpected happens. When Deacon Jim Fish was asked to go to Holy Rosary and Visitation parishes, Archbishop Sartain asked that I also become pastor of Holy Cross. I was happy to say “yes” to this as I believe God works in amazing ways at bringing about His will and desires, not only for me but for the parishes I serve. I have no doubt, that will be the case with us at this time!

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

So, how will this all work? Well, we are going to find out in the year ahead. Just as Saint Patrick and Saint Rita spent a year working out some of the details of our collaboration, so we will undergo a similar process with regard to Holy Cross Parish. In the meantime, everything at Holy Cross will continue on as it has. Fr. Ron Knudsen and I will work together and share the ministry. I will be there for daily Masses and at least one or more weekends per month, depending upon our schedules. I’ll spend time at the office and at parish events as well! Over the course of the year, we will begin to pray about what the Lord Jesus desires to see about how our parishes can collaborate, share resources, and build up the Catholic faith in north Tacoma…together! I ask for your prayers… for me, Fr. Ron and for all priests and deacons who are serving as “good shepherds” after the heart of Christ!

Blessings to you all for the week ahead!
Fr. David Mulholland

July 13, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In one of his first letters to us priests when he was installed in Seattle, Archbishop Sartain wrote about a little noticed gesture that every priest does at the beginning and end of Mass: he reverences the altar with a kiss. Since I read that letter seven years ago, the depth of that simple gesture has not been lost on me. The Archbishop said that every time he kisses the altar, he does so knowing that he is at home. Yes, “at home” at the altar! Every priest should feel at home at the altar, because it is at the altar where we live forourselves and for the people we serve. It is the altar, representing Christ and His salvation for us, that our ministry has meaning. It is the place where the family of God gathers around to worship Him, to give thanks and praise, and to receive God’s blessing and grace. All of that has rung true for me no matter where I have celebrated Mass. And it’s very much true now as I come “home” to Tacoma as your pastor.

In today’s gospel, the Lord Jesus sends out the 12 Apostles on mission and he gave them authority in their ministry of healing, teaching and preaching. In everyplace they went, you could say they were “at home” as well. Because home for an apostle, a priest and a pastor is anywhere that God has called him to minister to His sons and daughters. As a priest, I have “been home” at all the altars where I have celebrated Mass: for the first time at Saint James Cathedral on my ordination day, to across the world, in the mountains, and everywhere in between. And that is also true no matter where I celebrate Mass with you, whether at Saint Rita, Holy Cross, or Saint Patrick parishes. My friends, it is good to be at home with you!

In Christ the Lord,

Fr David Mulholland

July 6, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This first official pastor letter is taking up where I left off at Saint Mark in Shoreline. For my last homily there, I shared some quotes from scripture and the last three popes that have shaped my life and priestly ministry. And as I begin my new assignment with you, I want to share those quotes with you as well. These words have come to shape my view of what the mission of the Lord Jesus is all about and who we are as His disciples in the Church.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith!Hebrews 12:2

We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and of our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.Pope Saint John Paul II

Healing is an essential dimension of the apostolic mission and of Christianity. When understood at a sufficiently deep level, this expresses the entire content of redemption.Pope Benedict XVI

The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…” Pope Francis

Blessings to you all for the week ahead!

Fr David Mulholland

June 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am happy to greet you as your “almost pastor”! You will soon learn that it’s my practice to write a pastor letter each week for the bulletin and social media. Normally, I would begin this on the first weekend of a new assignment. But I write to you a bit early to affirm and support a significant change that will take place beginning on the weekend of July 7/8 concerning the new times for the celebration of Sunday and daily liturgies at our two parishes. I want to begin by thanking Kevin Lovejoy and the members of the Joint Transition Team for their time, insights and dedication. This group has prayed, reflected, discussed, questioned, and discerned how our two parishes can collaborate under the leadership of a single pastor. This team of people has met over the past 12 months and the topics covered have touched upon many aspects of parish life. A similar process will begin in the coming year with the parishioners of Holy Cross Parish, to see how our collaboration with them may unfold. And, of course, all of this is part of the ongoing Pierce Deanery pastoral planning process.

New Mass Times

Now that Archbishop Sartain has appointed me as your pastor, we can begin to move forward and present a decision concerning one of those topics: the Mass times for Sunday and daily liturgies effective  Saturday, July 7, 2018. Before getting to the details, I want to point out two things. First, both parishes are being asked to adapt to new Mass and confession times. So, this change affects everyone at our parishes. But at the same time, we all realize that the Saint Rita schedule is impacted the most. Second, these changes are the fruit of much prayer and discernment. It was not an easy or an arbitrary decision. Nor was it made for purposes of convenience. Rather, there is a greater spiritual good involved. We are being asked by the Lord Jesus to take the steps necessary to grow together as a community of the faithful under the guidance of a pastor. And on that last point, I am happy that pastor is me! I am very grateful that the Archbishop has called me to this assignment. I found out in early March about coming to St. Patrick and St. Rita and since that time, I too have prayed, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, on what is the best liturgical schedule so that I can be a good pastor for our parishes.

Pastoral Presence

So, what is the fruit of all this prayer? A few things: First, what stood out for me, and for others, is that it is extremely important for a pastor to be present and celebrate the Sunday liturgies with his people on as many weekends as possible. I also learned this from experience. One of my previous assignments was as pastor of six parishes in Lewis and Pacific counties. While I loved the people of my assignment, I don’t feel I was the most effective pastor and spiritual leader that they deserved, largely due to the fact that I could only celebrate Sunday Mass at any given parish once or twice a month. The six parishes were covered by me, a parochial vicar and retired priests. Although the Masses were covered as priests were found, the spiritual importance of the pastor being present to pray, lead, guide, teach, preach, and celebrate each week was lacking. I have found that this pastoral presence at the parish is of fundamental importance in being a good pastor.

Because I Love You

In addition, as Archbishop Sartain noted in his recent homily at Fr. Michael Wagner’s funeral, one of the best pastoral responses to a difficult change (especially concerning Mass times) is “because I love you!” For my part, I would say that certainly applies here as well. I support this decision to change our schedules because, as your pastor, I do love you. I want to serve you and be the best possible pastor I can be. I pray you allow me that opportunity.

Sacrifice

And third, as Catholics, we are not called to comfort but for sacrifice. Pope Benedict XVI has noted that we were not made for ease and comfort, but we were made for the good, the great. In his encyclical letter Spe Salve, he said: “Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched…” And what stretches our heart? Sacrifice!

The Lord Jesus desires that we each grow in our faith, so that our hearts can truly be open to know and love Him and our neighbor. Our parishes exist to make this a reality in our lives. This is the Christian way and it is the way of the cross. And the cross always involves sacrifice; dying to ourselves; giving of ourselves, for a greater good. Priests, deacons, and spouses implicitly know this if they truly live their respective vocations. But it applies in many other aspects of life as well, including our parish schedules.

My friends, the change in our liturgical scheduling will involve sacrifice. And everyone is being called to participate! You are being asked to sacrifice your normal routine; what you have become familiar and comfortable with, for a greater good. We are all being asked to place our ease and comfort aside, to stretch our hearts, and our routines, so that the Sunday Celebration of the sacraments can truly be vibrant and transformative, and that as your pastor, I will have the opportunity and ability to serve you as the Lord Jesus intends. My prayer is that you will be willing to sacrifice and embrace the changes so that together we can all move forward in faith, hope, and love.

Thanks for reading this letter to the end! I will see you all soon. May God bless you!

In Christ the Lord,

Fr David Mulholland