My Dear Friends,
Last Sunday, Father Omar announced in this space that Archbishop Wenski has appointed him as the new administrator of St. Katherine Drexel in Weston. While we are obviously saddened to lose such a wonderful priest, we congratulate Father Omar for soon he will be charged with shepherding a parish, and I thank him for the two years he helped me to shepherd the family of Little Flower. There is a very quick turnaround on this assignment as he will begin his new apostolate on Monday, June 6th which means that he will celebrate his last Mass as our parochial vicar on Sunday, June 5th which is fittingly the Solemnity of Pentecost when the disciples go forth to start preaching the Risen Christ. (More info next week on how we will bid farewell.)
Naturally many of you may be wondering who will be replacing Father Omar as the next parochial vicar of Little Flower. Well, if you’ve been here for more than 8 years and had a very keen eye in the summer of 2014, the seminarian that Father Davis hosted that summer was ordained a priest two years ago and will be transferred here next month: Father Andrew James Tomonto. Providentially, a year after he spent a summer serving here as a seminarian, he was assigned to serve a summer with me while I was pastor of Immaculate Conception. So, we are getting a good priest who knows our parish, knows how special Little Flower is, and is looking forward to joining the ranks of the many good men who have served this parish well as vicars in its 96-year history.
This news of priestly transfers which is affecting so many of our parishes this summer is a good transition into reminding us to pray for vocations incessantly. There are many parishes who lost a parochial vicar and sadly will not have that position filled because we need more priests. The harvest is indeed abundant, but the laborers are few, as our Lord tells us in the gospel. The parish of St. Coleman where Father Andrew is coming from is not getting a new vicar as we are. You’ll recall that 6 years ago, we had two full time vicars but when Father Tran was appointed to the University of Miami, we never filled that second vacant slot. We have been blessed with the generous help of our in-resident priests. Father Uko, Father Stephen, and Father Juan sacrifice so much to help us with the sacraments here and the celebration of the Mass – sometimes when finishing or about to start very long and demanding days in their hospital ministries. Plus, we receive help from various retired priests who live in the area such as Father Angulo and Father Carrion along with the priests of the seminary who love visiting our parishes. We’ve been blessed that Father Luis Rivero pitches in on Saturday afternoons a couple of times a month.
There is a common joyful theme that we often repeat in our rectory when our priests are gathered for a meal: we love being tired for the sake of all of you our dear people. We love the long confession lines, the packed Masses, the backlog of baptisms that we still have, and yes, since it is Little Flower, the endless number of weddings that we celebrate. To say nothing of the responsibilities of ministering to the largest parochial school in the Archdiocese which is St. Theresa. Jesus promises us an Advocate in today’s gospel, and your priests feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and your powerful prayers every single day.
Pray for Father Omar. Pray for Father Andrew. Pray for your priests. Pray for more vocations! We need to fill our seminary with young men on fire with the Spirit and ready to bring Christ to the world. Those young men come from your families, and so in order to increase our awareness of praying more fervently for vocations, I am announcing that starting this fall when school begins, we will be starting the practice of the “Vocations Chalice” in our parish. Every Sunday, a different family will take a retired chalice home with special prayers so that as a family they may pray for more vocations to the priesthood. Who knows? Maybe a little boy in our parish will hold that Vocations Chalice in his little hands and one day be holding a chalice filled with the Blood of Christ over our altar. In August, we will start promoting this more and putting a sign-up form on our website so that every family may have the opportunity of taking the Vocations Chalice home and be part of what I pray will be a springtime of priestly vocations not only for our Archdiocese but for our parish as well.
God bless you all,