Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
This weekend we say goodbye and a BIG thank you to Father Philip O’Neill…These past couple of weeks have been filled with flashbacks from the past four years since receiving word from the Archdiocese of the Military regarding his upcoming officer training.
These flashbacks are sparked by comments made by colleagues, parish staff, and you the people to whom Father O’Neill has ministered to over these past three plus years. You know he has been here for three years as a priest and was here prior to that as a seminarian and as a deacon. My flashbacks or memories are countless. I am thankful for each of these moments of reflection.
Take a moment and think of all that Father O’Neill has done in his time among us. Think of the babies he baptized, the First Communions he celebrated, the number of people who experienced the mercy of God through his ministry both in Confession and in the Sacrament of the Sick. Think of the number of families he ministered to in their moment of grief at the death of a loved one, think of the comfort he brought them through his words and kindness, and think of the prayers he offered for them. Think of all the children who grew in faith through his priesthood both in our school and our religious education program. Think of the Bible Studies he led, the countless homilies he gave, and of course the moments he was present at parish functions both spiritual and social. He spent himself in service to us and for that we are most grateful!
I cannot help but express my personal thanks to Father O’Neill not only for his assistance in expanding the ministries, programs and events of our parish, and for his constant support through the times of change and transition, but also for his personal friendship, support, and encouragement to me. I am most grateful that God blessed us with him as our Parochial Vicar these past years, and I am sincerely grateful to God for the friendship we have developed.
What a blessing it has been to be his first priestly assignment and to watch him grow in his ministry and in the experience of his share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Through these past three years, he learned by experience what it means to be a parish priest. There is an old ancient prayer that really describes the life of a parish priest that I want to share with you. I have shared it with you in the past but at a moment such as this it seems appropriate to share it again. I have prayed with this prayer since I myself was in Seminary. It was written in the nineteenth century by Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, OP. Here it is:
“To live in the midst of the world with no desire for its pleasures; to be a member of every family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets, to heal all wounds; to daily go from men to God to offer Him their homage and petitions; to return from God to men to bring them His pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to bless and to be blest forever. O God, what a life, and it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!”
Thank you Father O’Neill for your ministry among us, thank you for being a great example to all of us, and know that we will miss you! God’s blessings upon you in your new assignment.
PLEASE JOIN US THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON FROM 12-3PM. We will host a “good-bye reception” for him in the Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish Center. We will be serving wine and cheese, as well as some appetizers. Please come by and say thank you and wish him well!
With the departure of Father O’Neill impending I have been asked countless times “so when will we know who is coming?” I have no answer to that question! I wish I did. I have been informed by the Archdiocese that they are working on assigning a replacement but that I should plan to be alone for at least a month. I have made arrangements to help me cover the weekend Masses through mid-July but I will be alone for all weekday obligations!
What does this mean for you? How will this impact your life as a parishioner of Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish? I will continue to do my best as I have tried to do throughout my time here to meet the needs of the families I am here to serve, but being alone in such a large parish will certainly mean that I will need your patience, understanding, and cooperation. It may mean a need for some flexibility in scheduling funerals, meetings, and events. I ask for your prayers for me and for your cooperation. I also ask you to consider how you might be able to pitch in to help in any of the ministries of our parish family and get involved to help make our parish a vibrant presence of faith in our community. Thank you for all you already do, for your support, and for your understanding in the coming weeks. I ask for your prayers!
The priests shortage is real! There is no question about it. In these coming weeks, thanks be to God it will only be a few weeks, I will be alone to serve the Town of Cheshire when only four years ago there were four priests to serve the town. Think about that! Just four years ago! We need to pray! Please consider joining the St. John Vianney Vocation Prayer Society and flood heaven with prayers for more priests!
This program seeks to respond to our Lord's invitation to "Pray to the Master of the harvest to send more laborers." Members of this prayer apostolate commit to pray daily for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life in whatever way is most comfortable for them:
Offer the daily prayers for vocations on the holy cards that will be sent to you.
Pray the Rosary daily for vocations or offer a decade of the Rosary daily.
Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament and ask the Master of the Harvest to send more workers for the vineyard.
Include vocations in your Mass intentions.
Pray with the Sacred Scriptures using lectio divina for 15 minutes each day and pray that the Word of God burn in the hearts of priests.
Offer a share of your sufferings/work of penance for the perseverance of priests, deacons, married couples, and consecrated men and women.
The possibilities are many … it’s up to you!
Members of the society ask the Lord for an increase in the response to God’s call and for the perseverance of priests, deacons, married couples, and those in consecrated life. Members also promise to encourage people to seek their vocation and live it courageously by personal invitation as moved by the Holy Spirit.
There are no dues or mandatory meetings.
Why is prayer important for the work of vocations? Prayer is the support that brings to fruition the seed of the vocation within the men and women who offer their lives to serve Our Lord. It is through the power of prayer that those seeking the priesthood and the consecrated life are sustained and nurtured. It is through the grace of daily prayer that you will partake in the work of building the culture of vocations. You will be a prayerful participant in the priest’s ordination and will have made a key contribution to ensuring that there are priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford to serve future generations. For more information or to register please visit https://www.hartfordpriest.com/prayer-society.html.
As always, remember to pray for our parish families and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.