At the Last Supper, Jesus told His apostles that He would soon be departing from them. His disciples found this news distressful. Jesus had been their spiritual leader and intimate friend. For the better of three years, they spent almost all day, every day, with Him; sharing breakfasts in the morning, walking down the roads and conversing with Him, watching Him preach and heal n villages, spending evenings with Him around the fire. Not only had he taught them about God, he had also made them more godly men. And so, understandably, word of their Good Shepherd’s departure saddened them.
But Jesus told them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” In obedience to His Father, Jesus was going away, but He told the disciples that they would not be left orphans. God would send them another person to lead and sanctify them. Jesus told them God the Father would send them another Advocate, another Helper, another Guide, to be with them always. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, who would continue the same work which Jesus had begun in them. The Father had blessed them before by sending them Jesus. Now, at Jesus’ departure, the Lord wanted them to trust and remember this: that they would be blessed again.
Today, this Gospel is fulfilled in our hearing. Father Stoetzel has asked me to read you this letter from him:
Bishop Callahan has asked me to take a new parish assignment beginning July 1st. I will be the next rector of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse. Also, I am very happy to announce your new pastor here and St. John the Baptist in Marshfield. He is Fr. Samuel Martin who is presently the director of the Holy Cross House of Formation and teacher at Aquinas High School in La Crosse. Please welcome him graciously as he is being sent by the bishop to be your pastor.
I want to thank you very much for the privilege of being your pastor for the past 15 years. My gratitude goes to you for the prayers and many acts of kindness you have shown. Let us continue to pray for one another. Be assured that you will be in my fondest thoughts.
The fact that our bishop has appointed Fr. Stoetzel to be the rector of the cathedral (the bishop’s own parish) says much about Father’s quality as a pastor. We will miss him in many ways. I don’t know Fr. Martin too well, but every encounter I have had with Him has been a positive one. I predict that we will all be very pleased with him when he comes in July and will be blessed by getting to know him better. In the meantime, let’s remember pray for Fr. Stoetzel, as he prepares for his new assignment in La Crosse. Let us also pray for our pastor-to-be, Fr. Sam Martin, as he prepares for us.
Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” The Lord wants us to trust and remember this: that He has blessed us before and that He we will be blessed again.