I attended an 8th grade graduation at San Gabriel a couple of weeks ago for 36 young people headed for high school. Sarah Burrola, the Valedictorian of the class, offered a wonderful reflection quoting the novelist Anatole France: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” Sarah captures for me some of the feeling about coming changes for several of us Claretian missionaries at our parish. People ask us if this change from being at our parish to move to another is what we want. I try to explain is not always about what we want, but what we are learning, and what we are being invited to do.
Sarah continued with her thoughtful reflection: “While we cannot go back to the beginning, we can re-live the moments by remembering all the good times we had together.” In fact, our Sunday Eucharist is a remembrance of our commitment to mission. The Sunday mass is a place where we have listened and told stories of our people. You know I will remember you and our many past celebrations, and events! Remembering you will direct me in the mission at San Gabriel. While I will listen to the story of the people at San Garbiel, I know my heart will be encouraged and given wisdom from the times I have spent with you. And I look forward to the ways we might continue to encourage one another.
This week we send Fr. Hector Návalo to Springfield, Missouri to be pastor. I know he is encouraged by what he has learned from his time at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary. He is grateful, accepting, and more humble. And he knows how to celebrate… and you have given him a gift, in light of the hardships of the neighborhood, to know better how to accompany the poor. We ask God to bless him and watch over him and keep him connected to the spirit of our mission in Christ.
Sarah concluded her talk: “In the words of Dr. Seuess ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ For as we leave this home away from home, we know that we never truly leave. We are family. And this is something I could never forget.”
None of us can forget.
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF