One of my favorite songs is It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye by Boys to Men. It expresses how I feel about leaving our beloved county. Yet, I know the Lord loves us all so much and is aware of every circumstance and desire that we could need, has great things waiting for you and me. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” We have heard this so many times, I fear the words lack the power they originally had for those first followers of Jesus.
I recently received a text message from a parishioner of Saint Cecilia. It read “I think this is a move up so that you don’t get too comfortable. God has great plans for you.” As I read these words, I felt they were not just to me and about me. They were also for all of you and those at my new mission. After all, the God of the universe loves each one of us individually and desires not only our salvation but that we grow to trust most in Him
There can be a danger in clinging too tightly to a particular minister of His sacraments, places, and people, including our loved ones. Jesus says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” As easy as these quotes and bible verses are to remember and say, they are not as easy to embrace. We need to allow ourselves to be stretched, to learn to trust even more in the Father’s love for us and for those He sends into our lives.
These have been the happiest and most fulfilling years of my priesthood. Through you, God our Beloved Father, has grown me, renewed me, stretched me. I pray that through me, God has done the same for you. I will not say goodbye to you, though some of you may not see me again in this life. My prayer is that we will all meet again in “The Father’s house.” Earth is not our permanent home. We are all only traveling through. It has been a huge blessing for me to be your Shephard over these 13 years. To lead you closer to our Lord and the home to which He is calling all of us.
Please pray for me, and Father Swink. Your new Shephard was chosen for you by God our Father. He is very gifted and has many blessings the Lord wants to work through Him for you and through you for him. Do not limit what the Lord can do! All is Grace! All will work out for His Glory and our good! Praise be His Name now and forever!
Your brother and father in Christ,
Fr. Scott Woods