Dear St. Martin of Tours Family and Friends,
When I read the letter from the Archbishop at the end of last Saturday’s Mass, it felt like a termination letter. Being told that we were being “subsumed” into St. Mark’s left many questions unanswered. Like many of you, I was very bitter and unhappy and depressed.
After spending three days and nights in a tomb of sadness, I received a phone call from Fr. Burkemper on Tuesday which buoyed my spirits. Father and I are similar in this regard, we are both pastors who want to preserve our history and who want to build things up. He wants to be certain that we have Mass at St. Martin of Tours church every Sunday at least. He wants to do all within his power to preserve the legacy of St. Martin’s and, as much as possible, to continue what we have here.
I am now thinking that, just as I was most likely the right pastor for St. Martin’s for the past six years, Fr. Burkemper will be the right pastor for St. Martin’s (as merged with the other four parishes under the banner of St. Mark’s) for this challenging time. His task is going to be rather Herculean and probably much more than I would be able to handle. I think we got very lucky to be getting Fr. Bob Burkemper. I have only heard wonderful things about him: he is very orthodox in his faith. He loves Jesus and Mary. He is a good and kind man who listens. In addition to being a kind and wonderful human being and Christian, let us also be aware that Fr. Burkemper is also a son of St. Martin of Tours, having been baptized here, having graduated from our school, and having also said his very first Mass here some forty years ago. Indeed, St. Martin’s is his home, too. He loves this parish just as much as so many of you who grew up here, learned your Catholic faith here, received your sacraments here, and buried loved ones from here.
And let’s also consider the spiritual dimension to what is occurring here. What if what we are going through is a test of our faith and of our good will? Certainly, if you read scripture, there are so many instances in which the Lord tests his saints. How many times did it appear to our forefathers in faith that everything was going to fall apart, only for the Lord to bring what appeared to have been lost to restoration and renewal. I feel like it's time again and to rely on all of our heavenly friends, to renew our good faith, our charity, and above all our hope and trust in Jesus that all will work out for us, as long as we make the choice to remain faithful to God.
We are now in the month of June. June is the month of the Sacred Heart. On of the dimensions of the Sacred Heart devotion of which I was unaware is its unique centrality to the renewal of the Church during times of stagnation and crisis. All of us may be aware of the apparition of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1670s. However, St. Bernard in the 11th century, the saint most responsible for reigniting the Catholic Faith in Western Europe, who founded hundreds of monasteries throughout Europe, had an intense devotion to the fiercely passionate nature of the God’s love, which is best revealed in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He indeed had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart. Two hundred years later, at the close of the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi who set all of Europe aflame once more, this time by preaching a Gospel of God’s great love for the individual – for the sinner, the poor, the ones born of lowly estate – he, too, was in love with the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Most Beautiful and Sweet Sacred Heart of Jesus, come to our aid as we face this time of transition. Bless our parish of St. Martin of Tours, and preserve us in a special way in the midst of all adversity, change, and uncertainty, and lead us through what seems to be a dark valley into a future sweetness
known to you alone. Lord Jesus, we surrender ourselves to you, take care of everything.
Jesus, we trust in You. Amen.