It’s with mixed feelings that I share with you the news that was made public this Friday. Very soon, Bishop Mark has asked me to take on a new assignment. I’ve just been appointed the Rector of St. John Gualbert Co-Cathedral in Johnstown and Pastor of St. Patrick Church in Moxham. As I’m sure you’re all aware, St. John’s is home to our Diocesan TV Mass, which I’ll be taking over from Fr. Crookston who will be retiring. I know these moves never come at a good time. I’m not sure there really is such a thing as a good time for a priest to move parishes. I know when I arrived here, just a little less than two years ago, it wasn’t under the best of circumstances: Father Dusza had just been removed, and he had only been here for about a year.
I keep thinking of the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians…“One plants, another waters, but God caused the growth. Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth.” We’ve come a long way in the last two years. We’ve been through events that no one could have ever imagined. We’ve accomplished a lot. We cleaned up our office procedures, reorganized and expanded our bulletin and implemented a new Census System. We’re well underway toward the process of remapping our cemeteries. We have revamped our Religious Ed program and engaged some families in Family Catechesis. We’ve dramatically stepped up our Eucharistic Ministers in visiting the homebound. We’ve revived our Parish Council and worked to help make sure our parishioners can be heard. We’ve expanded our Finance Council, moved all of our bookkeeping into QuickBooks and issued some real Financial Reports with some really improved transparency. Then, of course, that was all while we’re all weathering a pandemic and all that has come with it. We’ve begun streaming the mass, and who would have imagined that for my first Holy Week here, we’d have had just 5 people present and over 300 watching online. I think we’ve all realized that we live in a time when things we never could have imagined have become reality. We’ve launched our first full take-out dinner and we have another one on the way. In that same time, we’ve celebrated many funerals, a few weddings, a couple of baptisms, and we received one RCIA candidate into the Church. It’s been a blessing to be with you for this time.
I’m also pleased to be able to say that I think I’ll be leaving you in good hands. Deacon Mark Gregor will be ordained a priest on May 29th and this will be his first assignment. I’ve gotten to know him over the last few years, and I really think he’ll do well here. He’s a bit older than me and although he’ll be a newly ordained priest, he brings with him a great deal of experience. I don’t want to say too much, as I’d rather allow him to introduce himself when he arrives. I hope you’ll be as kind and welcoming to him as you’ve been to me.
At the same time, please pray for me, this is an exciting move, but also a little overwhelming. I’ll be the new Rector of the Co-Cathedral, Administrator of St. Pat’s, overseeing the TV Mass every Sunday on Fox 8, while remaining at the prison in Somerset. I know quite a few folks down there, and please know that if you’re ever in Johnstown, you’re always welcome to stop in to say hello.
I know this isn’t something that any of us expected. I had thought I’d have been here a little bit longer than this and I had only barely gotten my things unpacked. Still, I’m very happy that you will still be able to have a full-time resident pastor here at Prince of Peace, and you don’t yet need to share that pastor with another parish. That’s something to be very thankful for, especially when we realize that even the Co-Cathedral where I’m heading will have to share me with St. Patrick’s in Moxham.
Over the next few weeks as we prepare for the change, I’ll be asking many of you for help. I ask that you please consider being generous with your time. As soon-to-be Father Mark Gregor will be a brand new priest, I’d like to hand off as many practical things to as many parishioners as I can in the next few weeks so that we can make the transition as smooth as possible and not overwhelm him as he walks in the door. Of course, over time, he may change many of those things, but I know this parish has been through a lot of changes in recent years, and I really want to help make this transition as smooth as we can.
I’ve certainly been blessed to be able to spend this time with you, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. I won’t be leaving right away. Because of the nature of a newly ordained taking this on as his first assignment, there will be a little bit of lag time. I’m not sure what the final transition schedule will look like yet. We want to give the soon-to-be Fr. Mark a few weeks to be able to visit the parishes he was assigned as a seminarian to say his thank-you’s, as well as some other things he needs to take care of. The transition will happen between June 6th and June 30th, and I’ll keep you posted on what’s going to be happening as I work with the soon-to-be Fr. Mark and Father Crookston.
Please know that through all of this, you will always be in my prayers. Remember, it is not who plants or waters that matters, because it is God who causes the growth.
-Fr. Matt Baum
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.
Prince of Peace