From the Pastor: Farewell to Fr. Clement and James McCoy
First the bad news. Fr. Philip Clement, who was so instrumental in bringing the Traditional Latin Mass to Tampa, is being transferred to Maine. This is bad news only to us, not to him or to the people of Maine. I will leave it to him to explain how this transfer came about but I want to let you all know that this is not a “punishment” assignment for him, but, rather, one of his own choosing. And, since I have already been asked, “NO!” I have not requested a similar transfer. In past years have spoken to snowbirds from Maine who have described the beauty of their state with great fondness, who have asked me to transfer there because of the great lack of priests, who have been very persuasive in their salesmanship... but not persuasive enough to get me even thinking twice about moving to a place where 64 degrees is a summer temperature rather than winter weather.
For those of you who don’t know just what a TLM hero Fr. Clement is, here is a little background, condensed version though it is. One day in conversation with his pastor, he was shocked to hear something like this: “Why don’t you celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass here?” He took that question and ran with it. He set up informational talks for his parishioners so that they would have the opportunity to understand just what the TLM is all about. After all, for the past 50 years or so, all anyone had heard was how bad the “old” Mass was, how nobody understood what was going on, how the priest had his back to the people (as if that was an insult to them, but turning his back to the Lord in the tabernacle was perfectly fine) and how nobody prayed except for the little old ladies clutching their rosaries (which nobody knows how to pray anymore, because it, too, was seen as a bad “old” tradition in recent decades). He planned, he educated, he got the people enthusiastic about the Mass which brought Christianity to the whole world (in the days when “Christianity” meant “the Catholic Faith”) and which produced countless Saints over two millennia. He showed them Pope Benedict’s writings allowing all priests to celebrate this venerable Mass even without their bishop’s permission. He revealed Pope Benedict’s explanation against the naysayers that the “old” Mass had never been abrogated and more, that what was good and holy in the past cannot now be somehow considered bad or evil. Then the (now retired) bishop, a naysayer of Catholic Tradition if there ever was one, got mad and fought to stop the TLM before it ever got celebrated. Father Clement, in saintly form, peacefully fought for the rights of the people and priests regarding this most august Sacrifice. And the Mass took off. Thank you, Father Clement. We will miss you. If you, dear reader, are able, join him at Incarnation for a farewell potluck on Saturday, January 13. More information and RSVP can be found elsewhere in the bulletin today.
Now for some (brief) good news. If any of you have needed to contact the office in the past 8 months or so, you have had the pleasure of speaking with James McCoy. He came aboard with no parish office experience but has proven himself to be a capable and amiable front desk man. Always quick of wit and willing to help as needed, he has been a blessing for us. But oh, so quickly, this morphs into more bad news. He has decided to move on to greener pastures. It is a long, early morning commute for him and the job, believe it or not, is very stressful, with constant deadlines to meet and even more constant (if there is such a thing) interruptions which seem to put the accomplishment of anything off track yet which must be handled with such charity as to not let anyone know that they are a royal pain in the culus. (Or is that auritulus? Sometimes Google Translate is not much better with Latin than I am.) Anyway, though there were aspects of this job which he truly loved (especially dealing with you, the parishioners), he, like Father Clement, decided that the time was right to go elsewhere. Please feel free to give him a call (constant interruptions are still his life until his departure on January 12, after all) and wish him well, thank him for his assistance, and, above all, offer prayers for his next stage of the journey toward Sainthood.
And finally, some more good news. Although I don’t know who will take Fr. Clement’s place (don’t worry, it’s not me), we have already--miraculously--lined up a replacement for James. Many of you already know him and will probably be thrilled to hear that he is coming to Epiphany. Unfortunately, I have run out of space so you will have to wait until next week’s bulletin to find out that it is Mark Rosendale. Oh, shoot. I blew it. Well, the cat’s out of the bag so this might as well go to print as is.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
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