A Letter From Father David
- Published on Sunday, 02 July 2017
Dear brother and sisters,
I cannot believe it has been three years since I first arrived here at this great parish named for the missionary saints, Cyril & Methodius. There is a twofold feeling when I think about that. It feels like just yesterday and hundred years ago at the same time. There is so much for which to be thankful as I contemplate these past three years. I’ve said this before and I will repeat it for the rest of my life, “this is an amazing congregation for a young priest to learn from.” I will always feel that way! I’d like to thank each and every one of you for everything you’ve taught me.
I remember when I was a young man growing up at Holy Family parish and experiencing a time when we seemed to have a new priest every year. It was exciting, but we also had to adjust every time. I remember at times thinking to myself, “I really liked the last guy…now I’ve got to get used to this new guy.” As funny as that might seem right now, it truly was the way I felt. When I arrived here in July of 2014, I remembered those feelings and thought to myself. “Hey, now you’re that ‘new priest.’ Be sure to make the transition as easy as you can for everyone.” I believe that experience growing up helped me when I arrived here and I felt as though that would be what got me through the first couple of years of priesthood. Although it helped, it wasn’t the main source of a smooth transition with a new community. The most amazing thing that made me transition into this parish so smoothly was each of you! You truly made me feel at home. From the very first Sunday here I never felt as though I was an outsider trying to win the love of total strangers; rather, it was as if I had been here my whole life. The smiles, excitement, love, and acceptance I received gave me the courage to be bold, faithful, and engaging. I’m sad to leave a community that truly makes their priests feel like it is all worth it! But trust that I will carry each of you in my heart for the rest of my life…the same heart that is broken because I’m leaving.
I was recently reading a popular Catholic internet blog and came across a prayer that seems so fitting right now. In the article the author recalled her encounter with a prayer in a book published in 2009. If you recall, 2009 was declared “the year of the priest,” by Pope Benedict XVI. In honor of that year, Magnificat Publications produced a prayer book entitled, Companion for the Year of the Priest. In this book was the following prayer that was composed by a priest while reflecting on his priesthood:
“They say that at ordination -and it’s not doctrine, but it makes sense to me- when you’re lying on the floor prostrate on the pavement, and the whole congregation and the bishop and the priests are all calling down the Holy Spirit on you, whatever you ask God in the name of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of your vocation, he will grant. . . .I had no doubt about what to ask. I was sick, and it was killing me, but I specifically didn’t ask to get better. I said, “Lord you know that I will forget to follow you and depend on you. You know that I will not turn to you anymore as your child if I feel I can make it on my own. So you have to break my heart always, you have to keep me poor and humble, you have to keep me incapable of anything without you. You have to make it clear to me that I can do nothing without your grace, and that will never be clear to me if I think things are going well. You have to break my heart.” -Fr. Vincent Nagel
“You have to break my heart.” What a sentiment! Notice for which reasons he requests that the Lord breaks his heart. So that he may stay poor, humble, and completely dependent on God’s grace. That is all I want at this time as well. My heart is breaking because I’m leaving but I know that Christ has a plan for me and as well for all of you through this. If we stay comfortable, if we stay where we are complacent, then how can we truly be missionaries for the kingdom of God? It is often during a time of change that God gives us the opportunity to diagnose the health of our spiritual life. Although it breaks my heart to leave all of you, I know that this life isn’t mine. It is Christ’s! Please, please, please continue to pray for me as I will need it as I move on to Most Precious Blood parish, and continue to be the chaplain at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Thanks for everything! You are my family and I love you.
Rev. David J. Bayardo