Apr 26, 2018
I pray for inspiration every week for my homily and for this bulletin cover. This week the Holy Spirit was direct and insistent… write about gratitude. Expressing gratitude is a hole in my armor. My Myers Briggs Inventory shows that. I’m a German; I’m big on duty. If you’re supposed to do a job, just do it. Your paycheck says thank you. I was big on institutionalizing gratitude with monthly employee lunches and awards, Christmas bonuses, employee of the year and all that. But a personal thank you, not so much.
Today is First Communion for 18 of our children, their First Eucharist. And Eucharist means “Thank You.” That is a very first, personal encounter of each of these children with Jesus Christ, their first complete “thank you” to God in the Mass. Hopefully, we remember that the Mass is our big thank you for all that God has done for us. But today I would like to thank God for some specific people, and thank those people too.
Last week Archbishop Carlson was here to confer the sacrament of Confirmation on our young teenagers. He has been very helpful to and thoughtful of Saint Anselm Parish. Sometime in about two years, he will retire from his position of Archbishop of Saint Louis. We will miss him very much. If you weren’t here for Confirmation, then you didn’t hear his homily that night. It was, to my mind, nothing short of brilliant. There was one important piece of advice he gave our teenagers that equally applies to us…Don’t settle for spiritual mediocrity.
Another retirement is much closer to home and in time. Abbot Thomas will turn in his pectoral cross to our abbot President on June 6, after 23 years of tireless work for Saint Louis Abbey, the Priory School and yes, Saint Anselm Parish. He is a man who has totally given himself to his mission. He has certainly shown all of us that no handicap can hold us back from doing the work God intends for us in this life. We won’t have to miss Abbot Thomas too much, because he will always be a member of the monastic community, and this will always be his home. On May 20, the 11 a.m. Mass will be an official Eucharistic send off for him to his retirement, whatever that means for a monk; there’s no retirement from that.
The Tuesday after Easter, our Director of Business Administration for the past 30 years handed me her letter of resignation effective June 30. Suzanne Hoops is retiring too. Well, I knew that would happen sometime, but I was always hoping… not now. But now is the time. The son of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren wrote an epitaph for his father “si monumentum requiris, circumspice,” which means “If you are looking for a monument to him, just look around you.” We could say the same about Suzanne. Not that she designed or built the Parish House or Center, but that she has kept it looking and working like new. And it is in no small way thanks to her that this parish is in excellent financial shape.
So THIS Monday, our communications secretary was into work early. She dropped by my office and said could she have a word with me. Sure, I said, then she pulled out a white piece of paper and I said NO!!!! But yes, Renee Molner has resigned too, to become Youth Minister at a parish in Columbia, Missouri. Renee has been here a short time, but she has truly brought our website, bulletin, Facebook, social media, mailing and collateral into the 21st Century. She is a Millennial that defies the negative stereotypes we hear about; she is faith-filled, not full of self; hard working and creative, always willing to help others, always cheerful. She has shown what a huge impact a skillful people-person can have on an organization in a very short time. Our office will feel very empty without her.
Back in 1995 when I was Youth Minister here, I was taking Paul VI Institute courses. Lo and behold, in one of my classes was a Saint Anselm Parishioner and his wife. He was a candidate for the Diaconate, and his name was Steve Wohlert. We became good friends, and I asked Steve to read at my profession Mass in 1998. As a Deacon, Steve faithfully served the people of this parish for 18 years and was a great help to me when I became pastor. Just after I returned from my vacation last summer, Steve resigned from this life and accepted a position in eternity, where… I have no doubt… he is still helping me and all of you in Saint Anselm Parish.
God has gifted us with great leaders and great parishioners. Thank you Archbishop Carlson, Abbot Thomas, Suzanne Hoops, Renee Molner and Steve Wolhert! And thank you… each and every one of you. I might not say it all the time, but I really do think it all the time. I pray for more than inspiration every week… I pray for you.