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Fr. Israel's Farewell Letter

“For I know the plans I have for you.” (Jer. 29:11)

Dear St. Thomas More Parishioners,

As you know, the archbishop has assigned me to St. Frances Cabrini Parish in June 2016. Being a priest of the Religious Order of Discalced Carmelites, I have known that relocating with a new assignment would always be part of my life. I have never felt it difficult to take a new assignment, but this one is bittersweet. This is my fourth assignment in 20 years of the priesthood; the last almost-five years have been here at our great faith-filled and vibrant St. Thomas More community. The previous 15 years had been in Tanzania, Africa.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being at STM. It has been a time of blessing! I have really enjoyed being part of so many of your lives, especially through the celebration of sacraments, visiting the school, RE programs, different ministries, associations, hospitals, nursing homes and homebound visits, and smiling, speaking and dining with so many of you. I have enjoyed my time with clergy, staff and volunteers, and I will always cherish your friendship. Each one of you has deepened my faith in some way, and I have learned a great deal from all of you.

It is always difficult to leave… yet I trust in God’s loving providence and grace. I look forward to what Abba Father has in store for me next. I am grateful to Him for blessing me with each one of you, for helping us to grow in our relationship with Him and grow in trusting His merciful love for each one of us.

I am grateful for your prayers and support of me, the Carmelites and our Tanzanian mission. A priest friend once said to me: “Israel, every missionary needs to remember a great principle: Get in, get on and get out.” I smiled and jokingly added: “I think every missionary should get in, get on and get out, before they kick him out.” The STM community doesn’t know how to “kick out,” for hospitality is the way of life. This community knows only to love, to be generous and to make people feel at home. Hence, keep on loving and keep smiling, for St. Teresa of Jesus (Ávila) said: “May God protect me from gloomy saints.”

Be assured of my humble prayers for all of you. Please pray that I may always be able to love and smile and radiate the love of Christ to those whom I am called to serve and that I may always be a blessing to others as I “get on” with my new journey with Our Lord. I wish you all well and close with the words of an unknown author: “It’s not the goodbye that hurts but the flashbacks that follow.” God bless all!

– Fr. Israel, O.C.D.

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