To members of the St Louis de Montfort Parish.
From Fr. Robert Hamilton C.J.
Dear members of St. Louis de Montfort Parish,
Last March during a meeting of the General Council I took the decision that the time had come for Fr. Charles to leave St Louis de Montfort Parish and take a year’s sabbatical before taking on new pastoral challenges.
You will know better than I do how Fr. Charles has worked untiringly during his time as Pastor to develop both the spiritual wellbeing of the members of the parish as well as overseeing a remarkable programme of development. I know you will all celebrate his achievements.
The reason for my decision is that I fear he will run the risk of suffering from “burn out” in the not too distant future. If he takes a year’s sabbatical now he will be able to return renewed and reinvigorated in order to undertake new pastoral responsibilities in California.
I was acutely aware that this decision might well jeopardise the future presence of Josephites in the parish of St Louis de Montfort. I know that the Archdiocese wishes the Josephites to continue their ministry in the parish and that you the parishioners are very devoted to the Josephite community in Santa Maria.
The General Council examined the situation from the perspective of the entire congregation. We were all agreed that the American Region is very important for the ongoing development of our religious family. We were aware of the importance of the Parish to the apostolic life of the Josephites and that at this moment it would be very difficult to replace Fr. Charles by another confrere from the region. In the light of these considerations the central government decided that every effort must be made to support our confreres in California and their ministry at St. Louis de Montfort.
After a long discussion we decided to explore the possibility of asking a confrere from outside the Region to go to Santa Maria for a period of 5 years as Pastor of St Louis de Montfort Parish.
The most obvious choice was an English confrere: Fr. Aidan Peter Rossiter C.J. Fr. Aidan is an experienced Pastor. He has worked for a number of years as Pastor of parishes in London. He also has had some experience of parish life in California. While the choice of Fr. Aidan seemed to be a possible solution to the challenge of finding a replacement for Fr. Charles, it would mean depriving the European Region not only of its youngest member but also of a confrere who is the Regional Assistant for England. All those who know Fr. Aidan will be aware of his energy and dynamism both of which would be missed in the European Region and especially in England. In the General Council we had to ask ourselves whether or not taking Fr. Aidan out of the European Region was a wise move. Once again we had to take into consideration the best interests of our religious family as a whole and in the end it was decided to approach Fr. Aidan and ask him if he would be prepared to go to Santa Maria for a period of 5 years to be Pastor of St Louis de Montfort Parish.
Before making our proposal to Fr Aidan I needed to make sure that Fr. Ludo and the Regional Episcopal Vicar (Msgr. Michael Jennett) were likely to look favourably on our proposal. Encouraged by their replies I met with Fr. Aidan and explained our proposal to him. Understandably he asked for time to pray, reflect, and consult before making a decision.
I am happy to announce that after several weeks of discernment, Fr. Aidan has accepted my proposal and agreed to become Pastor of St Louis de Montfort Parish for a period of 5 years if the Archdiocese agrees. Fr Ludo has now written to the Archdiocese to seek confirmation of his proposal to appoint Fr Aidan to the Parish. We are now awaiting a reply from the Archdiocese. You will, of course be informed as soon as we have their reply.
The replacement of one Pastor by another is always complex – not least the question of timing.
It is important that Fr. Charles leaves the parish by the end of August and starts his sabbatical so that he will be ready to start a new pastoral assignment in California. However Fr. Aidan will not be able to take over the Parish before October 2015. Some sort of cover will be needed during the month of September. These details need to be worked out as soon as possible.
In the event of the Archdiocese agreeing his appointment, Fr Aidan proposes to visit California in June. This will give you an opportunity to meet with him.
There is however a danger in asking Fr. Aidan to become Pastor of St Louis de Montfort Parish for 5 years. It is important to stress that Fr. Aidan’s presence among you is not an excuse for the Josephites to avoid taking decisions about the future organisation of the Region. It will be important to ensure that there is a Josephite community established in the Rectory as soon as possible, and once Fr. Aidan has arrived the necessary measures need to be set in motion to ensure that a Josephite Pastor is ready to take over from Fr. Aidan.
I know that you will all appreciate Fr. Aidan’s generosity, courage and devotion as well as his concern for the wellbeing of the Congregation as a whole in accepting my proposal. It has not been an easy decision for him to make. I know that I can count on the support and collaboration of each and every one of you.
Fr. John will continue to minister to the Spanish speaking members of the Parish.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for the way in which you have supported Fr. Charles and the Josephite community in Santa Maria over so many years.
God bless you all.
God bless our apostolate in California.