From the Pastor: What Did The Bishop Say?
Last week I let you know that Bishop Parkes was returning from his vacation and wanted to speak with me about the last Church document regarding limitations to be placed on the Traditional Latin Mass. Your prayerful support was overwhelming! Thank you! Parishioners were praying at the church all day, especially at 3:00, the time our meeting was to begin. Other people had written to me, saying that they would be praying from home or even at work, knowing that this was a very important time for our very existence as a parish. The word was out on social media and people from other parts of the country (plus California, which seems to be some sort of society from outer space, or, at least, I hope that there is no place like that—so terribly governed—on Earth) got in touch with me to assure me of their prayers even though they would not be directly affected by the outcome of the big pow-wow (can I still use that term or is that now considered “cultural appropriation” by the PC police?).
When I got to the Pastoral Center the lady answering phones and greeting visitors got to talking about her parish “back home” on the east coast of Florida, where she was before moving here. Her last parish had a Traditional Latin Mass and she loved the pastor, who was in the seminary with me so many, many years ago. I told her that I believed her parish (Holy Spirit in Lantana) had just made the news in a good way. I was showing her a photo of one of their priests giving Holy Communion to a wheelchair-bound young boy, who, out of love for Our Lord in the Eucharist, had pulled himself out of his wheelchair and knelt so that he could receive his First Holy Communion humbly on his knees! Just as I was showing her this photo, who walked into the building but a family from Epiphany, inquiring about the possibility of being able to go to the chapel to pray for the success of the meeting! What a great surprise and a powerful witness of Faith! Of course, the chapel was locked, but they were able to stand outside of it in the 94-degree heat (only 97% humidity, though!) and pray while I was ushered into the comfort of an air-conditioned office.
The first thing that the Bishop said after greeting me was something like, “I hope you know that the people of Epiphany have my full support.” That set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Deacon Rick Wells was the only other person present and was in his official capacity as Chancellor of the Diocese. Although the Bishop said that at another time we may argue with each other about the tone and purpose of the Moto Proprio, for the time being, he simply wanted to let me/us know that any “worst-case scenarios” that might be conjured up in people’s minds was all just useless anxiety. He showed me a stack of hand-written (he was impressed!) letters and emails that awaited him upon his return from vacation and commented that most of them were very respectful and showed the best side of people writing to their Bishop concerning the “fate” of their parish. I don’t know that he will be able to respond to each of you, but at least know that he has seen what you sent. If you should want to write another (or a first) letter thanking him for his support for not only our parish but for the other priests and people who are nourished at local Traditional Latin Masses, I am sure he will be pleased.
One of the things he mentioned about one of the letter writers brought up a topic which I never expected to be broached that day: the possibility of building a new church and social hall and, if need be, rectory. Somebody evidently blamed him for us having a run-down, ugly church! He wanted to know if I was letting the facilities fall apart and then blaming him! That led to a discussion about how much money should be invested in a building that might be torn down soon anyway, about the lack of land for expansion, and other such things. He wound up giving me the green light to get together with the beginnings of a parish building committee and having someone(s) from the Diocese come down and give even further input into what we may be able to do on site. Plus there was talk about looking for any open land within the parish boundaries and even the possibility of the Diocese already having property elsewhere where there may be a need for a new parish and perhaps we would be able to... well, yes, that was all discussed, though not in great detail, but there was also a follow-up email from the Bishop in my mailbox the next day. He wanted to be clear: He did not give permission for us to build, but only to begin the process of inquiry in earnest. Of course, I understood that, but if he was worried about it being taken wrong, I figured I better pass it on to you, too, so that nobody misinterprets it as a green light to start raising money!
In that same email he also wrote something that we had not discussed the previous day: that there would soon be a document written up dealing with more specifics about how to respond to the Moto Proprio in this diocese. So don’t stop praying quite yet!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka