From Our Associate Pastor
Next Sunday is traditionally called the Good Shepherd Sunday, where the Gospel reading is typically about Jesus telling the parable of, or describing himself as the Good Shepherd. One of my favorite parables is about the shepherd who leaves his ninety-nine sheep in order to find the lost one. It not only talks about his love for each one of his sheep but also a sense of trust that the ones left behind are strong enough to take care of one another..
With that story as background, I would like to make an important announcement to you. Our Franciscan leadership has asked me to take on a new ministry at St. Boniface Parish in San Francisco, starting in September. This parish is unique in that it is located in the heart of the Tenderloin, a neighborhood with a high concentration of homelessness, poverty, and alcohol and substance addiction. Part of the parish’s response to this situation is to open its pews during the day for people to sleep, free from the risks they might encounter by sleeping on the streets.
St. Boniface is also located next to and collaborates with, St. Anthony’s Foundation, the most comprehensive safety net, centered in San Francisco, that started as a humble soup kitchen by the local Franciscan friars. That dining room now serves more than 1,000 people each day.
St. Francis originally founded a group of brothers that are meant to be itinerant, meaning that they would usually move around between different places to proclaim the Gospel. The first Franciscans went beyond city and parish boundaries, to minister to those who live on the margins of society, like the lepers. I am excited to be continuing this same radical Franciscan spirit in the heart of a city named after our founder.
However, I also feel some sadness that I will be leaving the community of Mission San Luis Rey Parish. You have helped me to become a better priest, friar, and person. Yet I am also very confident that you will continue to take good care of one another. In my three years here, I have witnessed your profound faith, great love, and warm hospitality. I have heard people over and over again saying that they have decided to start coming to our parish because they felt welcome.
As an itinerant order, Franciscan priests, including ones assigned to Mission San Luis Rey, will come and go. You, as a community, however, will remain here. What I believe you need more is future servant leaders and missionary disciples from the community.
If you are reading this letter and you still have not been involved in any ministry, pray that God will direct you to the right ministry for you. The Good Shepherd Sunday is also the Day of Prayer for Vocations. Beyond just praying for priestly and religious vocations, let us pray also for lay ministry leader vocations. To paraphrase the late President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote: “Ask NOT what the church can do for you, ask what YOU can do for the church.”
It has been a great blessing and privilege to serve you as an associate pastor. I pray to God that you continue to take care of one another, as I go find more lost sheep who are in more desperate need of help. Please keep me in your prayers, as I keep you in mine.
Peace, Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM
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