From the Pastor: Good News for Fr. Emmanuel
This week there is some good news regarding Fr. Emmanuel Ndechihiro. As you know, he came from Tanzania, Africa, four years ago to study Mathematics at St. Leo University and I was blessed to have him stay at the rectory of St. Anthony, where I was then the pastor. After he graduated with honors, I offered to have him here at Epiphany for the summer, to spend a little time before he went to Pensacola, where he will study for a Masters in Mathematics. During the time he has been here, he has been celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (something he had practiced when we were together in San Antonio but which he never publicly celebrated before I was transferred) and, occasionally, the English Novus Ordo Mass. In many ways, it has been a blessing to have a good friend back with me, not least of which is the week’s vacation I was able to take with him being able to take the reigns for a while. During his time here we have been trying to secure housing in a Catholic rectory for him in Pensacola, a task which was made more difficult due to our St. Petersburg diocese recently “stealing” the bishop from Pensacola, leaving an administration gap of authority up there to take care of oddball things like this.
Many of you have been praying hard for an open bed to be offered (thank you!) and now we finally have a positive response. He will be staying at Nativity parish, which is very close to the University of West Florida campus. The pastor there, Fr. Patrick Foley, has been extremely welcoming and has gone out of his way to make his rectory available. It may be only temporary, as the diocese may ask Father to move to another location later in the school year, but at least everybody is working to make sure he has housing at a parish! There were only two things required of Fr. Emmanuel, things which might seem pretty insignificant to everybody reading this but which are impossible for him to obtain without your assistance:
1. He must have his own transportation. This was not a problem at St. Anthony, as we had two “parish” vehicles which he could use as needed. Nativity doesn’t have one. So he needs a car and the insurance needed to drive it. (Any insurance agents out there?)
2. He must supply his own meals. Does he have a kitchen available? Does he need to eat out every meal? Will the parishioners up there be encouraged to bring him meals? Right now we don’t have an answer to these questions. Perhaps we will by the time this bulletin gets into your hands but most likely he won’t know until he gets there. He is going to see if a meal plan is available on campus for commuter students.
Many of you have expressed interest in helping him in any way necessary. These are the things he needs. How to best assist? With your prayers, money, knowledge, and contacts. If somebody has a vehicle just sitting around because you didn’t know what to do with your aunt Irma’s car when she passed away last month, that would solve part of the first problem. Then donations would be accepted to pay for insurance, maintenance, and gas. (I have been told that donations like this would not be tax deductible.) Otherwise, knowledge of where to find a good, cheap, reliable used car would be helpful. Of course, a donation of a good, expensive, reliable new car would never be turned down, but Fr. Emmanuel would then probably be too nervous to drive it anywhere. As for the food, we are a bit too far away to set up a food chain for him. I think it took him 7 hours to get there last week when a parishioner drove him to meet with the diocesan administrator. So, once again, simple donations toward groceries or a meal plan might be the best option.
One thing that I need to make absolutely clear about all of this: Father Emmanuel is not the one asking for any assistance. He did not come here looking for handouts. He is not begging for--or expecting--donations. He is far too humble and unassuming and in no way would he want to be seen as one of those people who came to these United States or this parish or this diocese just for the personal financial “benefits”. No, this request for assistance is coming from me in response to those of you who, of your own free will, asked how to help him out. On his own, he would have found a way to survive living under a bridge, washing up in the university’s gym locker room, and fasting for forty days and forty nights (or for two school years).
Here you have the latest information. What you do with it is up to you. Please say a few prayers of thanks for Fr. Foley and the good people of Nativity!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka