As I conclude my time as pastor, I would like to thank everyone for the prayerfulness, hospitality, creativity and support for the last three and a half years. Being in a small rural parish is very encouraging, for the people here are very prayerful, and energetic.
As with other rural parishes, people here know each other well and a large portion are engaged in the parish. As I was reviewing the parish listing for Father Perez, I noticed that about half of the families here not only attend Mass regularly, but are also involved in the parish in other ways, such as the Ladies Council, the Knights, the music, lectors and ushers for Mass, the sacristans, the catechists, and parish events and upkeep. All of the children in religious education regularly attend Mass (which all Catholics should) and most of them are involved in the youth group and/or youth choir.
Furthermore, the people here greet both guests and new parishioners, inviting them to parish events. The website launched three years ago, new bulletin design and Flocknotes are also very helpful in both promoting the faith and the parish and keeping everyone informed about events. Father Perez will have a solid ground to build upon.
As Father Perez comes here, it would be helpful to review some of the initiatives that have begun and how to build upon them. Recent physical renovations have included the new floors, the landscaping, refinished pews, the Stations Walk, a new organ, and new air conditioning. These renovations have been leading up to the largest project, the new church hall, which should be finished early next year.
With the new hall, this parish will be able to hold more events, which could include regular brunches and refreshments between Masses for the parishioners, especially the parents of religious education students. The hall is also planned to have more spacious rooms, which will help with religious education classes and other meetings. On that front, I encourage all parents to take advantage of these classes, and all parishioners to consider roles as catechists or catechist assistants, which could make high school classes a possibility.
Furthermore, the music ministry and youth ministry here are very active, including the youth choir singing at one Mass a month, and the youth ministry meeting two Wednesdays a month all year; there is also a music camp planned for the summer. For adults in addition to the Ladies Council and the Knights, who arrange most of our parish events and take care of the church and the grounds, there is a new women’s prayer group called Blessed is She and a new Marian devotional group, which gathers for prayer and reflection. There has been consideration of a men’s Bible study as well, an idea well worth pursuing.
I am confident that Father Perez will be interested in hearing of other ideas to make this parish radiate more and more the light of heaven in Page County and throughout the world.
The parish honored Father Horkan at a Farewell Dinner on June 25 at the Mimslyn Inn. We wish him all the best for success in his studies and God Bless.