"Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you, sing praise to your name! Come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.” Psalm 66: 1, 5
Today’s Psalm reflects the gratitude felt by the people of Israel for God’s actions on their behalf in the past and present. It is a fitting song that we all sing today as we gather to give thanks for the many blessings of this parish. It is here, in this beautiful stone building and in the classrooms across the street, that we have seen “his tremendous deeds.” In Peter’s letter last week we hear, “[B]ehold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious.” We too have laid both a literal and figurative cornerstone at Park and Spring Streets. Together we have constructed more than just buildings; together we have built a community of faith.
How can I do justice to 125 years of history? How can I do justice to the thousands of men and women whose faith and courage, sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances, have brought us to this moment?
When I learned of my assignment to Saint James I was thrilled and not a little anxious. As one of the oldest parishes in the diocese, her history loomed large. Her pastors were men of vision, her religious women and men stationed here enthusiastic in their faithful commitment to live the Gospel; most especially, though, it was her people, the families who knelt in prayer of thanksgiving or supplication who made a vision a reality. Generations call Saint James “home.” Children, grandchildren and now even great-grandchildren have worshipped at the same altar, some walking the same classroom hallways. This sense of stewardship has never been lost on me and it remains one of the great blessings of my life to serve you.
In our reflection series this week, we are asked to “watch for evidence” of God’s works and His presence in our lives. I can think of no more fitting example than our parishioners who continue to nurture the seeds planted by Father Tierney. In Sacrament and good works, the people of Saint James do not just know the Beatitudes, they live them. They feed the hungry and care for the poor and the lost; they are merciful, and they are just. They care not only for those within our community, but for our sisters and brothers throughout the world. Through prayer and financial sacrifice they continue to move, as Pope Francis exhorts, beyond the pew. And through their example, they inspire my brother priests and me to move beyond the pulpit. It is your faith in each other and in our God which has enabled us to carry out our educational charism, to teach the youth academics, yes, but more importantly, the beauty and responsibility of our Catholic faith.
John reminds us of Jesus’ promise: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Christ kept the faith with His people; we in turn keep it alive today. We are not and have never been far from the memories and works of those who built this parish. We honor them and their sacrifices today just as future generations will gather to give thanks to you. With the grace of the Holy Spirit and the love of our God, the people of Saint James today will continue to live the evangelist’s words to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.”
I hope you enjoy the pictures on our website. They seek to encapsulate all that we are at Saint James. A community of faith, gathering in fellowship and the love of Christ, prepared to spread Christ’s saving message of mercy, compassion and love.