I’m writing to tell you of my upcoming retirement from Saint Anne. I have been pondering the idea since last summer and brought it to Father Bernie’s attention in early January. This is my eighth year at Saint Anne and my 45th year as a professional youth and young adult minister. If you include my years in campus ministry while in college, it is my 50th year in Catholic lay ministry! With my wife, Adrienne, now in her second year of retirement from her teaching career, with our three children out of the home and gainfully employed, I believe it is time to join her. We would like to spend more time together doing the things we both enjoy.
In retirement, I hope to continue the Ministry of Care I have taken up with Barrington Woods and the Garlands. I will continue as a part-time clinical social worker at Barrington Behavioral Health and Wellness. When I initially contemplated retirement, I was concerned that there would be adequate time to locate a successor for the position before my last day, June 30. A number of parishes in the diocese have given up the search for youth ministers after a year or more of looking. In fact, Saint Anne was without a youth minister for a year before I took over the role in 2012. I contacted my former graduate program, Loyola’s Institute of Pastoral Studies. They put me in touch with a young man, Joe Tomaso. It was news to me that Joe is currently teaching a scripture class here at Saint Anne, as well as holding a full-time position in ministry in the Rockford Archdiocese. Over the course of a few meetings, I described the youth ministry programs to Joe, Fr. Bernie interviewed him, offered him the position, and Joe accepted. Saint Anne will hear more about Joe once he begins his work in July.
The mandate from Bernie when he hired me was to create a viable Confirmation program. I think Saint Anne, through the Paths program has accomplished this mandate. Parents and students have expressed much gratitude for Paths with its small home groups and large group speaker series. But, like every program, there is room for growth, novelty and improvement. In addition to Paths, my responsibilities have entailed the Kairos retreat program, Summer Mission trips, Spiritus Retreat, Night Ministry and overall care and attention to our high school age students and their parents. I have been supported by a wonderful array of parishioner volunteers, assisting in all of these programs. As I recently shared with a few of them, “I am leaving my professional role at Saint Anne, but I am not putting behind me the friendships that I have formed over these years. These relationships I intend to continue.”
This will be a challenging transition for me. Working, playing, teaching, retreating with teens for close to 50 years has been a great joy in my life. I suspect I will feel lost at times without this rhythm and this spiritually enriching time with Saint Anne teens and adults that have assisted me. But I also trust that as I close this door, God will open other doors for me to continue to share the Good News. I ask for your ongoing prayers as I take this next step in my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked in such a dynamic, supportive and loving community.
I still have a few months left in my tenure and intend to work to the very last day to insure a smooth transition with my successor. It is difficult to say how these next months will look for the Saint Anne community, let alone the entire world as we grapple with the pandemic. I join my prayers with yours and look forward to a healed world, and a return to a Church where we can sit together at the Lord’s table and share in the Eucharistic feast-side by side- without fear.