My dear friends,
Happy 4th of July Weekend! While it is a most unusual Independence Day without fireworks and parades because of the pandemic, we still celebrate our nation and the freedoms we enjoy. The work of this great project called America that our founding fathers began almost two and half centuries ago is still ongoing. Much like our lives of faith, America is still unfinished, she is growing, and she is still maturing. Even with our country’s many failings, she is still very much that “shining city on a hill” to so many. This year we have been called to reflect on those who don’t share that optimistic view of the American experiment, but this bold experiment is predicated on reliance on the “Supreme Judge” that Thomas Jefferson appealed to in the Declaration of Independence which he concluded by stating: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” The beauty of America is that we are many called to be one (“e pluribus uno”) which echoes the words of our Savior who prayed to our Father that we may all be one (cf. John 17:22). Yes, we have many deep differences, but we are called to see the face of God in each of our brothers and sisters, and on this holiday, we are called to love, listen to and respect those we rightly call our fellow Americans.
Last weekend, we announced to all of you that our beloved parochial vicar, Father Luis Flores, was to be transferred by the Archbishop to another assignment. We thank Father Flores for his three years of dedication and love for our parish. He came to us as a newly ordained priest and grew before our eyes in the image of Christ, the Good Shepherd. He departs with our prayers and with a community that loves him as it has loved all the priests who have made Christ present in the Eucharist at our altar. I will miss his counsel and his friendship.
Father Flores’ departure ushers in the arrival of Father Omar Ayubi. Father Omar comes to us from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in West Kendall. He is a fine priest who was loved by the parish community that sends him to us. Please join me in welcoming Father Omar to Little Flower, and pray for the success of his priestly ministry here in our parish. Obviously, this is not the optimal time to receive a new priest because the majority of our parish and her ministries are still shuttered because of the pandemic, but the work of the Church continues and the most important thing that Father Omar will do for all of us is to celebrate the Divine Mysteries at Mass. We entrust him to the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Mother of all priests and to our patroness, St. Therese.
Finally, to bring this column full circle and back to the birth of our nation, I want to share the wise words of Pope Benedict XVI delivered at the White House in 2008: “From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.”
God bless America!