To the compassionate people of Saint Anne parish,
My name is Deacon Tom Westerkamp, and for the past 31 years, my wife Diane and I have been parishioners of St. James parish in Arlington Heights. We raised three children there who are now adults, and after much soul-searching, we decided to downsize, sell our home and move to Cary to be closer to our daughter and son-in-law and our grandchildren.
We now are able to attend more of the children’s activities and watch the grandkids more frequently so that our daughter can work part-time. She is a physical therapist, and our son-in-law is a special education teacher in Round Lake. Our grandchildren are Nathan, 6, Logan, 4, Joshua, 2 and Alexandra, 5 months. Our middle daughter lives in Portland, Oregon, and our youngest is a flight attendant. We are indeed blessed.
My wife is a part-time school nurse at St. James, and I am a semi-retired pharmacist. I worked in the pharmacy at several hospitals in the Chicago area, and spent 25 years at a large healthcare company. I have been a deacon at St. James since 2009, and have enjoyed my involvement with several ministries, and truly enjoy helping others. I was appointed to the Diaconate Council three years ago, and represent the deacons in Vicariate I for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
I have heard about the wonderful people of Saint Anne from my conversations with Fr. Joji and Fr. Bernie, and I am very interested in being a part of this vibrant parish. It would be an honor to serve the Lord with you. There are so many incredible ministries and many involved parishioners; I have been looking forward to being a part of your parish. I am completing my deacon responsibilities at St. James, and with the approval of the Cardinal, I have officially transferred my deacon assignment from St. James to Saint Anne.
In today’s gospel, Luke shares the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. In those early days of the Church, people highly regarded the Pharisees and often looked down upon tax collectors. The Pharisees considered themselves holier than other people and were regarded as righteous, honest and upright. The tax collectors, on the other hand, were dishonest and often collected more taxes than were due and kept the difference for themselves. They were viewed as cheaters and considered untrustworthy.
Jesus explains through this parable that looks aren’t everything. Pharisees were not perfect, far from humble and exalted themselves. Tax collectors were not all bad; they recognized their sins and in this parable, one repents and asks for God’s mercy. Jesus uses this parable to teach us the importance of being humble, of not judging others and reminds us that we all need to repent for our sins and to serve others.
I am excited and honored to journey with you all as we continue to serve the Lord by serving others, and I look forward to meeting you in the coming months.
Your Brother in Christ,
Deacon Tom Westerkamp