May 1, 2016
Dear Holy Spirit Parishioners,
When we were considering building a new church, a number of parish wide meetings were held.
At one of them a parishioner asked “How long will you be here as pastor?” I answered that it was at the discretion of the Archbishop but added that as I was approaching my 60th birthday I was considering three things: my physical health, my psychological energy to be pastor of Holy Spirit Parish and my relationship with parishioners.
As I approached my 70th birthday in 2014, I addressed these same questions. As I look at the physical and psychological energy questions, I find I no longer have the energy to consistently maintain a 60-70 hour week. As most of you are aware, a few years ago I had three compression fractures of vertebrae, which resulted in 26 months of daily shots to strengthen my body, especially my spine.
With that in mind I met with Archbishop Carlson in September 2015 stating my desire to step down as pastor of Holy Spirit Parish and become a senior associate within the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
With the June priests’ assignments I will leave Holy Spirit Parish and receive an assignment as a senior associate somewhere within the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I am aware of where I might be assigned but until it is finalized cannot indicate where it is.
When I was installed as pastor of St. Blaise 20 years ago, I noted that our most important activity as a parish family was prayer. As I look back, we have done that well from two perspectives—liturgical and affective. Holy Spirit’s liturgical prayer life gathers the community of faith to open their minds and hearts to the Word of God and gather at the table of the Lord to be nurtured to go out and proclaim God’s Kingdom. The celebrations of Thanksgiving and Holy Week especially stand out to me. At the affective level many opportunities are offered for individuals to grow closer to God. Here are some examples—the Eucharistic Chapel, various Journey groups, contemplative and charismatic prayers groups, Prayer Shawl Ministry, Oremus, Bridges, the Matthew Kelly Prayer Process, the Stations of the Cross at the Garden of Feeden, the outdoor Shrine to the Blessed Mother and the prayer chain through Faith in Action, to name a few.
It has been and will remain my honor and privilege to have served as your pastor for the past 20 years. My ordination invitation stated that a priest is ordained to bring people to God and God to people. I trust over the last 20 years I have done that at St. Blaise and Holy Spirit.
Rev. Richard J. Bockskopf