Letter to Parishes
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ’s family at
St. Michael’s and at Holy Trinity, Cohoes:
Peace be with you!
As a priest of Jesus Christ, it has been my prayer every day, that He make of me a bridge to His healing, compassion, and redemptive mercy for the members of my flock – my family – sharing the journey to follow Jesus on our life’s pilgrimage home into His undying love. In the commitment to be such a bridge through life’s perils and hopes, I also ask my Master that I not make of myself a barrier to our Savior’s love.
These two parishes have given me much life and cause for compassion, but in these strange times over the last year and a half – in my desire to serve and to give of myself and to feed the flock – I can also forget how to be fed by Christ Himself.
And so it is with great humility I see my need to surrender more fully to Christ’s healing. So I have asked for help and support – that I may stop feeding on junk – literally. Instead of medicating myself in a disordered affection for food, I turn my gaze to Christ to feed me the food that lasts – so that I may never run out when I return to feed my Catholic family in Cohoes.
The Bishop has graciously and fervently supported my request to spend perhaps three months at Enders Island, off the coast of Mystic, CT. There, my spiritual, psychological, and medical health will be the intense center of my attention so that I may receive healing, refreshment, and wholeness. And with newfound vigor, become better able to serve my Parishes as Christ has called me to do.
This Island is much more than a Catholic retreat center. It is a center for recovery from addictions of all kinds. And mine happens to be to food. For me right now, one candy bar is too much, and 100 candy bars are not enough! Is there such a thing in your lives you’d do well to let go of? Pray for me as I pray for you, that, reunited after this brief but sacred respite, we shall help each other’s hearts to be at rest in God alone!
As the Bishop will tell you, I remain the pastor of both St. Michael’s and Holy Trinity, and I shall be returning, having been better fed, so that I may also feed you with Christ’s love. I will be involved in major parish decisions even in my absence. But during that time, you will be well cared for. For all decisions on liturgical, ministerial, pastoral, and spiritual matters, turn to Deacon Paul as your chief steward. In temporal matters of the day-to-day business of the parish (making the trains run on time, if you will), turn to Jasper Stoller as our outstanding parish manager. They report directly to me. They can speak for me. And they can speak for you – to me – if you turn to them. Each church will also enjoy a dedicated priest to administer the sacraments and celebrate the Holy Mass, including funerals. Fr. David LeFort, Co-Vicar General of the Diocese, will serve primarily at the weekend masses at St. Michael’s, and some daily masses and special occasions. Fr. Deimeke will serve at Saturday and Sunday Masses at Holy Trinity, as well as 11am Masses at St. Michael’s. As of Advent, there will no longer be duplicated daily Masses between the two parishes. 9am masses will be held at St. Michael’s on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and at Holy Trinity on Thursdays and Fridays. Fr. Diemecke will cover the bulk of these in collaboration with Fr. LeFort. Holy Trinity will maintain its 5:30 evening Mass with 4:30 confessions on Tuesdays, with some dedicated guest priests, including Fr. Kyle Gorenski, Fr. Charles Onyeneke, and others. Fr. Bourgeois remains a faithful friend who can also share the labor in the vineyard when needed. The number of priests for our Church of Albany is far fewer than ever before, except when this was mission territory. And the people of God faithful to that ongoing mission has dwindled at least as much.
But you remain, and Christ needs you. And I need you. Pray about how Christ is calling you to help feed His people from your parishes right now! From Each member of Christ’s Body, He seeks the contribution you can give. For each of you are uniquely loved and uniquely called to show the face of Christ to all who seek to rest in Him at our parishes, lest they look elsewhere. Stand and be counted among the members of His Body. And build up that body by being Christ’s radically loving and welcoming heart and hands.
Despite geography, we are irrevocably bound together in Christ. Let us open our hearts to the joy of His Gospel, and turn no one away by closing in on ourselves, as if membership in the church is something to be possessed or controlled, rather than something – someone – to Whom we freely surrender – and serve – by welcoming the least among us into His Living Body – including the brother or sister sitting in the same pews, with whom we have spurned reconciliation.
Thank you for the outpouring of your love and support, and your prayers for your humble servant-priest. And know that you remain in my prayers, and in my love. That is why I must be away for a time; so that I may return to you as a healthy and long-lasting bridge to Jesus Christ.
And together let us remember Psalm 127 which proclaims:
Unless the LORD build the house,
they labor in vain who build.
Unless the LORD guard the city,
in vain does the guard keep watch.
Fr. John Cronin