FarewellFATHER GEORGE W. RUTLER
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
At Noon on September 17, 2001, I became your Pastor, and at Noon on August 1 in this year of 2013 I relinquish that duty and move on to new work assigned to me by our Cardinal.
Our Lord knows that 99 sheep are not enough if one more is lost. Since 2001 our flock has doubled, and there have been among them nearly a dozen who have been called to the priesthood. While I am the only priest in this parish, the visiting priests who assist in various ways have been a great support. I have heard in these twelve years possibly around 45 or 50 thousand confessions, and my fellow priests may have doubled that. No one save the angels in Heaven will know the wonderful graces that have been given in our confessionals, and that has been a chief joy to me, along with the priestly vocations of those fine young men who have been like sons to me. Our small parish staff have always been loyal, and those who help in other ways have graciously preferred to go unnamed. The volunteer faculty of our CCD classes, which have grown ten-fold, could more than match the finest of any school, and young people come from long distances for the Pre-Cana program which is unsurpassed for its sound teaching of the joy of true marriage. The holy Liturgy has been accompanied year after year by our music director and choir. The men and boys who are our altar servers have instinctively and happily followed the directives of the Holy See, shunning theatrics and the clericalization of the laity by the misuse of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist as though they were ordinary. During the week I have been grateful for the service of Deacon Frank Orlando, who has recently been made director of formation for permanent deacons in the Archdiocese. Our lectors read the sacred lessons of God's lively oracles with dignity, and even cut short their ballgames and surfing in the summer to do so.
Perhaps someday if I am permitted repose, I shall read into the record the lessons I have learned from people. That would not be an exercise in flattery or criticism, both of which are unworthy of a Christian, but it would be advice for our children when they are grown. When I became Pastor of this parish, there were saints among us who guided me, and there were others who may become saints in a lengthier period beyond this world, but who did not make things easy for me. They were much tamer than Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14). I trust that in the future there will be no retreat to the old mistakes and abuses which have been addressed by our recent Popes.
I have grown to love St. Paul more and more, and part of that is because, just as he tried to explain the Gospel on Mars Hill in Athens, I have tried in a shamefully poorer way to do that here on Murray Hill in New York City. Since he is the saint that I am not, my only affinities with him are in his love of the Master, and his love for his people. That love was evident at Miletus when he said farewell to the elders he had summoned from Ephesus as he was embarking for Jerusalem. "And when he had spoke thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they all wept and embraced Paul and kissed him, sorrowing most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they brought him to the ship" (Acts 20:36-38). I am only going to the far west side of Manhattan and not to Jerusalem, and you may see me from time to time, and instead of boarding a ship I may be on the 34th Street bus. But I do kneel like him as I leave, with happy tears of thanks for having been among you.
Faithfully yours in Our Saviour,
Fr. George W. Rutler
Father George William Rutler. "Farewell." From the Pastor (July 28, 2013).
Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.
Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses — Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Copyright © 2013 Father George W. Rutler
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