Merry Christmas, Dear Family, From Fr. Bob

The following letter was sent out this past weekend to everyone on our mailing list. Many people have requested that we put it on our website. Here it is:

Christmas, 2009

Dear Family,

Father Jim O’Donnell returned to the parish that he served as a newly ordained priest fifty years ago and helped about 800 of us celebrate St Colman Day on Nov. 14th. The people who have fallen in love with him over the years and those meeting him for the first time heard him say that if the only prayer we ever utter is “Thank You,” it is enough, it is the perfect prayer.

This Christmas we give thanks to God for you and, more than ever before, we thank you! It is sincere and deep, eternal thanks for you, the St. Colman family, that fills our hearts as we draw all of you into our St. Colman Christmas communion with the newborn Savior.

On St. Colman Day we processed out of the full church singing, “Dance, Dance, wherever you may be! I am the Lord of the Dance, said He! And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be. I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said He.” I am sure that the Spirit is drawing all of us (even the reluctant) into one beautifully choreographed yet spontaneous dance. It is a “Dance” that invites everyone to be part of it and thereby proclaims and celebrates God’s mercy and love to all.

As I reflect, the “Dance” this year, I remember that it began with faltering steps as a mixture of doubt, fear, anxiety and hope slowed us down a little as we waited for the Bishop to rule on our cluster recommendation that we remain open as a parish. Then on March 14th, the “Dance” stopped suddenly. The news traveled fast. The Bishop had decided that St. Colman was to merge and close its doors. Shock, disbelief, confusion, hurt and even anger at first stopped us but then gave us a spirit that made us want to dance all the more.

By St. Patrick’s Day, three days later the dance began again, at first hesitantly, but bolstered by the song and enlivened by the cheerful pipes, insistent drums and the high-stepping and marching feet, the “Dance” picked up speed; the tempo grew faster; there was a new fervor; more people were actually joining in. The shock and confusion were behind us. A strong resolute belief, nurtured by the hope and commitment of so many, proclaimed to the world that we would never stop the “Dance.”

THANK YOU!
Who never stopped dancing through the hard times, Who kept the music going as in a reflective second symphonic movement; Who are always with us, the keepers of the promise, Who continue to give themselves in the lean years when times are tough; Who had broken away from the “Dance” for a time but Who returned rested, anxious to “break-in” and determined; Who have always been our extended family and Who have roots here and have never forgotten; Who live in the neighborhood, part of all we are and do, Who dance a little differently but whose dance fits together with ours; Who found us when you were in trouble, Who came to us when we were in need; Who came together with us when God touched you with birth, death or marriage, Who shared God’s touch with us and let us know his love; Who are our neighborhood cluster churches and our Church in the City partners, Who pledge to “dance” with us as we march forward; Who come to us from other countries as immigrants or refugees; Who make us so beautiful with your diverse and wonderful cultures.

Thank you for the thousands of letters and petitions, the phone calls and personal visits, and for proclaiming your solidarity and your commitment to the ministry and mission of St. Colman. The “Dance” was back in full swing and the Bishop heard the music and within six weeks declared loudly: “Let the Dance go on!”

On May 31st, we celebrated together the Feast of Pentecost. It was a feast unity and thanksgiving, a feast to strengthen us for the future. Infused by the Holy Spirit, the music swelled and the “Dance” moved on with deepening joy through the hard work and many meetings of five months to create a comprehensive strategic plan. The plan, as we implement it during the next three years, will ensure our sustainability and future growth and will begin to accomplish our cluster goals and the goals the Bishop set for us.

Finally, on St. Colman Day, November 14th, the music reached a new pitch and the “Dance” reflected a new, hopeful, determined yet happy intensity. We are preparing to dance into a future like the magi preparing their gifts to bring to the newborn King. It will take much of our time, our talent and our treasure, but the stewardship of the gifts God has given us will be like learning new steps for an even richer “Dance.”

As one family, dancing together, in the year ahead, we will be delivering the reality of love and caring that our brightly lit towers promise in the darkest and coldest of winter nights. We “dance” with His love and His inner joy.

“O Come, All Ye Faithful!” We ourselves draw near to the “Child.” We feel the warmth and light that He brings. In doing so, we draw closer to one another and find the “Joy to the World,” that the angels promise.

THANK YOU AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, TO THOSE YOU LOVE, TO THOSE WHO LOVE YOU!

LET THE “DANCE GO ON!

Gratefully,

Fr. Bob Begin
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