I leave this Sunday for my sabbatical in Rome, Italy. I am very excited for this opportunity to learn more about my Catholic faith and to dive deeper into the spiritual life. My pastoral approach to ministry has always been that the minister must first be alive with the faith before he is able to pass it on to others. Fire comes from fire. I often quote St. Bernard of Clarvoix teaching to those seeking to do good things for God, “If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels.” We have many channels in the Church today but very few reservoirs. My purpose for the sabbatical is solely for the benefit of filling my reservoir that I may come back to you spilling over with water for the furthering of your spiritual life.
While I am gone, Fr. Adam and Fr. Andrew will be in charge of the parish. I have been super impressed with these young men. They are both wise beyond their years, full of learning, committed to the life of prayer and passionate about exercising their priestly ministry. They will be assisted by our outstanding parish staff who many of you know very well.
Before Fr. Adam and Fr. Andrew were assigned to Blessed Sacrament, the Bishop called me into his office to discuss the prospect of Fr. Curtis serving as chaplain to Kapaun and Blessed Sacrament being assigned two new priests. He shared with me that he knows some people will find it problematic to send two brand new priests to a large parish where the pastor is leaving for a three-month sabbatical, but if there is a parish and staff that can handle it just fine, it is Blessed Sacrament. That was a great compliment to both our parish staff and our wonderful parishioners!
During my sabbatical, the Bishop has asked me to keep a low profile in order to focus on drinking in the many blessings of this sacred time. I feel that I am very fortunate to have this time away to enrich and enhance my priesthood. I am passionate about being a priest and I am more than grateful to be your pastor.
Please pray for me during these three months as I will certainly pray for you. And, I will see you on the first weekend of Advent!
Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Rev. John F. Jirak