As 2016 winds down, radio and TV programs remind us it’s been eventful year in our country and our world. Here at St. Vincent this, our 175th year, has been a big one as well.
We began 2016 by welcoming Colleen McCahill as our new pastoral associate. We were fortunate that, as a long-time parishioner, she was able to transition quickly into the position.
As the year began, the parish was already involved the Archdiocesan planning process that addresses how Catholic parishes will continue to, and in fact grow in, our efforts to evangelize given the increasing shortage or clergy. This process will eventually yield new configurations for all parishes, called pastorates, which typically will be two or more parishes operating together.
Meanwhile, this 175-year-old church got a spiffy new look as our multi-year restoration of the exterior continued. The Front Street side’s brick was repointed and painted; woodwork scraped and painted; steps reset and realigned; windows repaired and protective glass installed.
In the summer another new staff member joined us. Codie Perry, a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member and recent grad of Boston College, began working as outreach coordinator, connecting with all our service ministries and the people in need who come to our doors.
In honor of our 175th year, our annual Feast of St. Vincent celebration in September was especially festive. Our neighbors and parishioners consumed more than 400 burgers and 300 hotdogs at a picnic in our park. Parishioners supplied the sides and desserts and served the meal to all who came.
The picnic was a prelude to the real celebration, an anniversary Mass in November. Unfortunately, in October Fr. Dick took a fall from which he is still recovering. And so on Nov. 6 we marked the 175th anniversary of this community without him. While he was deeply missed, our anniversary Mass was a joyful event. Bishop Madden’s homily recounted the accomplishments of this community, in particular our service to the poor, across our entire history.
Around this same time, the Archdiocese rolled out the first iteration of its pastorate plan in which we were paired with St. Leo of Little Italy. The community came together to discuss how this might work and what it might mean. In the end, both St. Leo and St. V decided to ask the Archdiocese for something different. We then began discussions with St. Ignatius, the downtown Jesuit parish. And while we will not be in a pastorate with St. Ignatius, we are pursuing a deeper relationship with the parish as we continue to discern what our future holds.
Of course, we can never really answer this question. As 2017 dawns, St. Vincent will likely find itself even more “in suspense” as the prayer from Teilhard we are reading each day describes.
Yet we can see a few things. Foremost, Fr. Richard Lawrence will retire after more than four decades as pastor in early 2017. We will come together to honor the man who has led this parish for 43 years (or if you do the math, one quarter of its existence). We will plan a fitting retirement party for Fr. Dick sometime in the spring.
We don’t know who our leader will be or how leadership will be structured, yet there is something we do know: We continue to be a community that lives its mission to “love, serve and challenge one another.” As much as we are able, we will discern the path that allows us to best fulfill our mission and grow in our faith.
Change is coming. That much is certain. And with that certainty, we have the opportunity to take up our challenges in a prayerful, thoughtful manner, listen to one another and listen for what God asks of us.