Words cannot express the gratitude I have for all the prayers offered up to God on my behalf. The love and support poured out is an unmistakable sign of God’s merciful love alive in all of you. It is also a reminder to me of how much I am loved. Thanks so much for everything.
One benefit of modern technology is that from the isolation of my hospital room in Ann Arbor, I have been able to join our parish for various events via livestream. From the flawless Triduum liturgies to the Divine Mercy Service, I have been encouraged and fed by “attending” these events from afar. I miss everyone so much.
In the midst of this trial, I have been experiencing many graces from the Lord. Let me share two. There is a nurse who works here (she happens to be a parishioner too), who comes to visit me after she’s off her shift every day. I’m not allowed outside visitors so when she comes, she spends time with me, prays with me for healing, and even brings me food to give me a break from hospital food. She is Jesus to me. Her little acts of compassion and love are so simple and yet so moving for me. Her humble love reminds me of the simplicity and power of the lay vocation to bring Christ’s love into the world, no matter where the lay faithful find themselves. I have also discovered other parishioners who work in the hospital who humbly offer themselves at times to say hi and serve their ailing pastor. You know who you are. Thank you.
Another grace: Divine Mercy Sunday. This day is a very special day to me. The message, grace, and devotion of Divine Mercy changed my life forever after I read St. Faustina’s Diary in seminary. I consider my entire priesthood as a response to and a witness to the infinite Mercy of God found in Jesus. A brother priest was finally able to bring (smuggle?) in a Mass kit and we celebrated Holy Mass in my hospital room. I had to do so sitting down, since I didn’t have the strength to do so standing up. This brother priest has been a true Icon of Mercy to me even as he gave me the added treasure of offering Mass. All for the conversion of sinners.
Honoring Fr. Joe
As you heard this weekend at Mass, Fr. Joe will be starting his new assignment at Lansing Catholic High School this summer. He has really picked up the reins of the parish since I’ve been banished here in the hospital, and I am deeply thankful for his loving service. Please honor and thank Fr. Joe for being a rock for the parish in this difficult time. He’s going to be missed so much, especially by me.
I also want to give a quick shout out to the wonderful staff at the parish, who over the past couple of weeks have been incredible in their service supporting each other and serving the parish in this time. Thank you!
My Condition and Continued Prayers
Not much of my condition has changed since my last note. My condition is precarious, but stable. It seems that every moment the doctors start talking about releasing me, I invariably experience a significant setback. The mystery of my interior bleeding continues to challenge the doctors and my peace, to be honest. Because I don’t have a high blood count, I don’t have much energy and find myself sleeping a lot. The cross of Jesus is never far from any of us, but when we choose to carry it with faith, the cross strips you of everything you depended on outside of him. Please don’t take the little things for granted in life. Everything is a gift, and so praise him in everything! If accepted in love and united to Jesus, even suffering can lead to fruitfulness and the glory of God.
My fear has been that I’m going to be here forever. Two weeks in the hospital is nothing to shake a stick at. However, I am blessed by some of the best doctors, PAs and nurses who are so good to me. The main doctor overseeing my care reassured me today that he has a plan and that I will recover. So while I hesitate to say I’ll be home this week one way or another, that is pretty likely. But that doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods. One plan to get me home involves less pain and risk than the other. Please continue to pray for my complete healing. Continue to pray for the doctors and all who are caring for me, for divine wisdom for them.
I miss being at the parish. I miss celebrating the sacraments. I simply miss being your pastor and serving you. Yet what comforts me is that I know that my spiritual fatherhood as a pastor cannot be reduced to physical service or even physical presence. I believe in the profound truth that through the many spiritual sacrifices and love I am offering up for you in this difficult time, God is indeed providing grace for the parish in mysterious and powerful ways. While I can’t be your pastor in the green pastures right now, I can be your pastor on the Cross interceding for you. Either way, our Good Father provides. Because he is so good, I can’t wait to see what happens with our parish. 🙂
I will continue to offer up my pain and suffering for the parish as well as an additional intention which is so dear to Jesus’ heart: the conversion of sinners.
Your servant in the Merciful Heart of Jesus,