Dear Friends in Christ,
We gather this year for the 22nd time as a parish community to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our first celebration in 1997 took place at Copper Creek Elementary School, where we had only two masses on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas day. Things have come a long way since our humble beginnings. We moved into our new church in time for Christmas 2002, with poinsettias cleverly blocking the still unfinished parts of the baptismal font. We have continued to grow as a parish community over the years, as has our campus, and we now have seven Christmas masses.
Being the pastor of this vibrant parish has been the great work of my life and an honor that I am not sure I have always been worthy of. Over these two decades, I have celebrated major turning points in the in lives of many of you: welcoming your new babies into the family of the Church through baptism, celebrating first communions and confirmations, presiding at weddings and walking with people through illness and injury, and then entrusting them to God’s merciful care at their funerals.
Through it all, I have always been uplifted by the faith of our parishioners and by the willingness of so many to give of their time, talent and treasure to make sure the work of the Church is done. For this, I am truly grateful. Together, and with God’s guidance and assistance, we have created a magnificent parish community.
In 2019, I will mark my 65th birthday and the 35th anniversary of my ordination as a priest. I have been the pastor for thirty of those years, the last 22 here with you. After much prayer and consultation, I have come to the decision that it is time for me to move on from my current duties. This was a difficult decision to make, but in my heart, I know this is the right time and I am at peace with it.
I am not“retiring” as such, but changing course and looking to explore new avenues in which I can serve the Lord and the people of God. I plan to start a six-month sabbatical on July 1 and I will use that time to discern the future course of my ministry. I am planning to spend a month at the North American College in Rome at a sabbatical program for priests next fall, as well as making an extended retreat, traveling and recharging.
Change is always disconcerting, as it will be for me and for the people of St. ThomasMore. Over the next seven months, we will have the time to get used to this new reality, to plan and to celebrate the
May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a new year filled with health, peace, and happiness.
Fr. Jim Turner