October 7, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Nearly 25 years ago, in the early hours of the morning at St. John the Evangelist Church in Greenfield, WI, a young man sat before the Blessed Sacrament praying for Divine Guidance. Lord, if I am supposed to follow you more closely in the religious life please give me a clear indication. After ten to fifteen minutes of apparently nothing, this young man decided to play “Bible Roulette.” This is the “game” where one closes their eyes, randomly opens the Bible, places their finger on the page, and decides that God is speaking through the verses on said page. So, he closed his eyes, let the Bible fall open, placed his index finger on the page, and opened his eyes. Imagine the surprise when Matthew Phelan saw that his finger was on Matthew 9:9 – The Call of Matthew: As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
The last Mass that I celebrated in my previous assignment was on the Feast of Saint Matthew, in which that same Gospel passage was read. It reminded me that, when our Lord calls, we must follow. Today the Lord has led me, along with Br. Martin Jarocinski and, for the time being, Fr. Kenneth Breen, to our Catholic family at Our Lady of Mercy and St. Brigid.
As I ask for your prayers for Br. Martin, Fr. Ken, and me, let us also pray for our beloved confreres Fr. Michael Donovan, Fr. James Chia, and Fr. Justin Freeman who, after their faithful and dedicated service here, also follow our Lord to new places. I am forever grateful for their kindness, support, and fidelity. They are wonderful friars and priests who will be missed in our community here. It is no small task to follow Fr. Michael’s gentle, loving, and prayerful spirit; Fr. James Chia’s enthusiasm, dedication, and fastidious cleanliness; and Fr. Justin’s simplicity, frugality, and commitment to the confessional. We shall do our best to preserve the goodness and love of Our Lord and Our Lady that we find here, continuing to strengthen our communion with one another. On my part, I shall strive to bring a spirit of loyalty and levity as we together hear our Lord’s voice saying, Follow me.
Fr. Matthew H. Phelan, O. de M.