Greetings in Christ!
My name is Fr. Neil Wack, and I have been asked to be the temporary administrator here at St. Ann’s. I’m a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, dean of the Taunton deanery (of which St. Ann’s is a part), and I’m also the administrator at Immaculate Conception in North Easton.
There is much I could tell you about myself – I’m from South Bend, Indiana, I’m the youngest of 10 children, and I have an older brother who is a bishop in Pensacola-Tallahassee, but that’s not all that important at the moment. Right now I just want you to know that I am praying for your parish family. I use that word “family” deliberately, as I am convinced that the best definition of “parish” is one that Saint John Paul II used quite often: a parish is a family of families. We are all connected, after all, related by the Blood of Christ, all charged to be disciples learning at the feet of Christ and receiving Him in the Eucharist. Then we bring Him out into the world, to those who so desperately need to know, love, and serve God. Our words and actions help to make that so! Like in any family, there are joys and sorrows, moments of great celebration, and times of sadness. We are fortunate to have each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, as members of His Body, and here at St. Ann’s.
I have met with your parish team, including Deacons Joe and Paul, and it’s clear you have a good and thriving parish! My job isn’t to change anything, really. Hopefully what I can do is be a resource for everyone who is already working and ministering so well at St. Ann’s. I am here to help you in whatever way possible to get closer to God. That’s the “job description” of every priest, deacon, religious, and layperson. I approach that idea through the lens of my religious community, the Congregation of Holy Cross. I’m a member of that community, as is Fr. George, Fr. Adam, and many of the priests who have helped here (like Fr. Bill Kelley and others). In fact, I live with those good and holy priests at Stonehill College, where I am the local superior.
During this time many Holy Cross priests will be coming here for Mass, so chances are you’ll hear about our holy founder, Blessed Basil Moreau, and our only saint, Saint Andre Bessette. Father Moreau took as our motto “Ave Crux, Spes Unica”. It’s from an ancient Christian hymn, and it means “Hail the Cross, our only hope.” We anchor our hope in Jesus, as we remember his salvific act on the Cross, especially during Lent.
Our psalm response today is great for this holy season: “Be merciful, oh Lord, for we have sinned.” That’s a wonderful prayer for each day, really. Saint Faustina once wrote, “God’s mercy is stronger than our misery.” Let’s keep that in mind when the weight of the cross is heavy, or when we are hesitant or ashamed to bring into the light the sins we hold in the darkness. And let us support each other, walking side-by-side in this imperfect world, on pilgrimage to our ultimate goal, being with Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all of the angels and saints in the Eternal
May God bless you, all this week!
Fr. Neil Wack, C.S.C.