Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Fond Farewell

Dear friends,

This is a difficult letter for me to write because my time with you here in Saint Albans has been the some of the happiest time in my personal and professional life. It has also been the most fruitful in terms of the kinds of things that we have been able to achieve together. There is no doubt that we hold one another in very deep affection.

More than a year ago, as I approached my 60th birthday and my 10th year with you I began to ask in my prayers what it was that might be next for me in my life personally and professionally. Subsequently, several congregations approached me to consider a position as rector. I had not sought out a change; they just seemed to come to me. None of the possible positions made much sense to me or to Cindy. In the meantime the Church Pension Fund sweetened up the retirement alternative very nicely and we began to consider that possibility. Still we needed to have some kind of a part-time position for us to meet financial obligations incurred when our children attended college.

Then this summer, when Cindy and I went home for a visit to Maine, we both got a sense that it was time to consider being closer to family. Cindy’s mom and dad are getting on a bit in years, and we are getting to the point where we just plain miss our native home. As much as we love this our adopted one, we began to miss our family. I did explore some possibilities in Maine but nothing there turned out to be a practical alternative. We returned to Saint Albans and decided to hunker down to the fall schedule as always.

Then on the eve of our Diocesan Convention, a dear friend of mine called from the North Shore of metropolitan Boston. It seems that the rector of St. Peter’s in Salem, Massachusetts had just resigned. They needed a Priest-in-charge to go in there for about a 3 year period and steady out things until they get the wind back in their sails. They are a good parish with a group of outstanding people like yourselves.

I called the senior warden and began a series of conversations that led in turn to a visit in Salem on Thursday and Friday October 19 & 20. I spoke with the Bishop of Massachusetts, and with the Assisting Bishop for urban congregations of which St. Peter’s is one. Both Bishops gave their blessing to the possibility of this new ministry.
Cindy and I spent all kinds of time calculating what our retirement check would be as well as what this part-time position offered. It turned out to be a very attractive offer that will give us a very significant increase in income and our ticket home. It will also give me more time to write and time for Cindy and me to travel to be with our children more.

Last Wednesday, November 1, 2006, All Saints Day, on the 11th Anniversary to the very day of my beginning my ministry here, the vestry of St. Peter’s formally offered me the position as Priest-in-charge of that parish. I have prayerfully considered that offer. It seemed like an answer to a prayer. It gives us a chance to move back home. If we take retirement and accept this position, we will establish a very significant increase in income. It gives me a chance to work part-time in a delightful small and very historic congregation on Boston’s North Shore. Therefore, after much soul searching, I have decided to accept the offer.

I have spoken at some length with Bishop Mike Klusmeyer about my possible retirement and about accepting this position. He is not looking forward to my leaving this diocese. Neither am I. I have spoken to the members of the vestry of St. Mark’s. We also will find it difficult to go our separate ways. But there is never a good time for a change like this. That being said, I believe that it is time for Cindy and me to go home. I believe that we have been led to this moment faithfully. It appears to be an abundant answer to an honest prayer.

Therefore on Monday evening, November 13, 2006 I will submit my resignation to the vestry of St. Mark's Episcopal Church to take effect at the end of this year. My last services will be on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That will allow me to be here with you at a very important time and also to bid my fondest farewell to the folks at Christ’s Kitchen.

My dear friends, these have been among the very best years of my life. Cindy, David, Joshua, and Michael want to join with me in thanking you for this time together. And we want you to know of our prayers, and our deepest affection as together met we now prepare to go our separate ways. May God Bless our coming in and our going out both this time forth and for evermore.

Faithfully yours,

Fr. Paul Bresnahan