About twelve years ago, I arrived at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church with Fr. David Lord and Fr. James Enim. As we know, Fr. David suffered a stroke, and after some therapy, was transferred to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Fr. James wanted to go back to Ghana and succeeded in fulfilling his desire. I have heard recently that he is living now in England. He underwent surgery on his leg due to diabetes. Other priests came here and left as well. Now it is my turn.
On May 10 of this year I will travel back to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Later in the month, Fr. Mark Baron will become the next pastor. I will begin a two-month Sabbatical upon arriving. I know that I will visit immediate family, along with other members of my Community. I have signed up for a week retreat with the Trappist Community in Massachusetts already.
On June 1, I will travel to Israel, as I was accepted into a study program in that country. We will encounter various speakers in the morning, Islamic, Jewish, and Christian. In the afternoon we will visit different shrines and archeological sites. I should be there for one month.
Returning to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, I will be helping at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, the Visitation Sisters in nearby Tyringham, and other parishes that need help. Who knows what else? I will be close to family as my sister and her husband live nearby to Stockbridge. But I also have family in Boston, New Bedford, Dennis, and in also nearby Rhode Island.
But I also have family here, in all of you. Twelve years is a good stretch of time, and I have shared deeply in the lives of the people here. I will not say, “Goodbye” as I am sure that I will visit here occasionally. There are already two people who have invited me for certain sacramental functions!
However, after May I will not be living here. For this reason, I wanted to thank all of you for your hospitality on so many levels. We accomplished much here. Sacramentally I have performed 11 First Communion Services, 11 Graduation Ceremonies for the great Our Lady of Peace School (please always support it), 3 Confirmation Ceremonies (never got a MITRE and Crosier!), along with countless Baptisms and funerals.
I especially want to thank the Deacons and staff here. This parish operates well due to a strong community effort. The invaluable service provided by them cannot be ignored. Fr. Mark will experience a good support system. I was challenged here, and I learned and grew much as a result. I could not have done it without you! I will always pray for all the families here, that you would always enjoy God’s Grace and Favor. On May 5, I will celebrate several Masses, but after the Noon Mass there will be a reception in the Gym. Please come so that I can give you a rich Blessing – and you can give me one in turn!
Blessing! Fr. Walter