It is truly hard to say goodbye.
As Father Don said when he shared his thoughts regarding Father Mark leaving (see below), Father Mark has been such a “tremendous gift to our parish.”
He has shepherded us so well and has made such a difference in our lives, especially our spiritual lives. One of the main things Father Mark has continually encouraged us towards is growth in holiness and in the interior life so as to know Jesus more deeply and to internalize what it means to be known by Him; this is Father Mark’s constant desire for us.
Because we are still limited by the Diocesan guidelines in gathering, as somewhat of a send-off, we invite you, as a parting gift for Father Mark, to participate in a Spiritual Bouquet so that even though he is no longer with us, we can let him know that we will strive to build on the seeds of faith he has planted here at Our Lady of Mercy, striving to grow in the interior life. And though we can’t fully gather together, we look forward to meeting him in prayer in the heart of Jesus.
Please see the following details.
First, exactly, what is a Spiritual Bouquet?
|—A “Spiritual Bouquet” is a gift of prayer or some other devotional sacrifice in honor of a special occasion, in this instance, as somewhat of a sending off and in thanksgiving and praise for what Father Mark has done for us and to listen to his desire for us.
How is this done?
|—This gift is given to another usually by giving them a card describing the sacrifices the giver will be making on the recipient’s behalf, and then, of course, following through and making those sacrifices.
|—Perhaps also offer your sacrifices for his time at his new assignment, for the Holy Spirit to continue to bless his priesthood, for constant protection; what’s amazing about this, is the spiritual gifts are endless and powerful. Pray to the Holy Spirit to guide you.——From performing specific good deeds and services; praying certain prayers, Novenas, the Rosary, or Litanies; making certain votive offerings, such as the lighting of candles; making the First Saturdays or First Fridays devotions; fasting; acts of penance; the offering of alms and corporal acts of mercy; time spent in Eucharistic Adoration, etc.
|—You can also write messages about how Father Mark has impacted your life or something you are grateful for.
|—We ask that you write it on one side of a notecard for it will be placed in a scrapbook which we will give to him; from something as good and simple as an index card to a single notecard will suffice. Ayla Kibler (thank you beautiful Ayla!!!) and her awesome family will be working on putting the scrapbook together.
Where and when can we drop off our notes and cards?
|—Please drop off by Tuesday 6/23.
|—Please drop it off in front of the white statue of the blessed virgin Mary, to the left of where the hand sanitizers are when you enter the main doors. There is a black linen covered tall-boy table where a box will be placed which will have a sign that says “Spiritual Bouquet.”
|—If you would rather email your note, please send it to email@example.com by Tuesday 6/23.
Thank you so much and please reach out with any questions.
Here is what Father Don said on his 5/3rd bulletin
“Ever since it was announced on April 19 that Fr. Mark will be moving from Our Lady of Mercy at the end of June, I have been inundated with the question, “why does Fr. Mark have to move?” We love him! He has done so much for our parish! We love his homilies and all the spiritual videos and information he has given us on the app and website during the stay-at-home order! The children, teens, young adults all love his youthfulness and his way of speaking and teaching about Jesus and the Church. His homilies are fantastic! They relate to him so well! He has only been here three years! Can’t he stay? I concur with your observations about the tremendous gift Fr. Mark has been to our parish and to me personally. However, moving on is a part, sometimes a painful part, of being a priest. In my 39 years of being a priest, I have moved to a new assignment 7 times. Each move was not easy because as a priest you love your parishioners and become close to them. Each new assignment however brings new friends and opportunities. I think it is good for the personal growth of the priest and the parish that priests do move on.
The current policy in the Diocese of Joliet is that a newly ordained priest stays in his first assignment for three years, then receives a new assignment. When I was ordained in 1981, a newly ordained priest stayed five years in his first assignment. Over the years with the shortage of priests, associate pastors were becoming pastors sooner than in the past. I was ordained 12 years and in five different assignments as an associate pastor before I became a pastor. Today, an associate pastor can expect to become a pastor after only four to six years ordained. The bishop wants an associate pastor to have at least two different parish experiences before becoming a pastor. That is why Fr. Mark is being transferred now. While he has had a great experience at Our Lady of Mercy, it would serve him well to experience ministry at another parish before he becomes a pastor. I think he will make a GREAT pastor someday soon! Fr. Mark is a holy, prayerful man who has a deep personal relationship with Jesus and a burning desire to share that with others – making others committed disciples of Jesus! I have no doubt that he will do that wherever he is sent!”