Praised be Jesus Christ! A year ago Monsignor Jeff Burrill moved to Washington D.C. to begin working for the national Bishops’ conference. In lieu of his departure, I was asked by Bishop Callahan to complete his term of service on the Personnel Council. We meet regularly to discuss the placement of priests and I joked with Father Burish that the only reason I took the job was to meddle with his future. I told him his next assignment would be in Barrow, Alaska... well, I was wrong. As many of you have already heard, Father Burish is moving to Chippewa Falls where he will begin serving the people of Notre Dame on June 29th. For the record, I had nothing to do with this (when he told me, initially I thought he said “Niagara Falls,” and I was very happy because it’s hundreds of miles away) and now that his time in central Wisconsin is waning, I think it’s time I come clean. Though it’s hard to admit it, Father Burish is a friend of mine and in all honesty, I hold him in the highest respect. His two years here were a source of joy and encouragement to me and I really loved working with him. I have been praying for him and his people, as I know their farewell will be a sad one. Father Burish spent three very productive years with the people of Auburndale, Blenker, and Hewitt and he will be sorely missed. There are other priests moving too, and it’s a good time for us to remember all the parishes that will be experiencing transition this year. Our time at St. John’s and Christ the King is coming – it might not be next year or the year after, but I’m now beginning my 7th year and all things run their course sooner or later. A priest makes a vow of obedience to his bishop and we take this very seriously. We believe God’s will comes to us through the Bishop, so when he asks us to take another assignment, we accept because the Bishop sees the bigger picture and makes decisions based on what is best for all of his people (and our diocese has 160 parishes). When the time comes for me to leave, I will be filled with sadness and gratitude. The sadness comes naturally for me because I’ve always found saying good bye to be tremendously difficult. The gratitude will be the part that heals because I will forever thank God for the years I’ve spent here. This was my first pastorate and I’ve learned so much from you and from my predecessor, Monsignor Stoetzel and so I thank God and you for everything. Oh, and please pray for Bishop Callahan who has to make all of these very difficult decisions. Sometimes he gets letters that are not very nice, especially when a beloved priest is moved to another assignment. If and when I do get moved someday, you are only allowed to write “thank you Bishop for sending him to us” or “it’s about time, Bishop – good riddance!” Okay, I now want to make one spiritual point that hopefully will bring this column to a close: losing someone we love causes hurt because it reminds us that “here we have no lasting city.” That hurt can lead to resentment, but given over to God, it can teach us greater freedom and detachment from the things and people of this world. If you or anyone you know are hurting in any way, please consider attending the monthly healing Mass at Saint Matthew’s in Wausau. I will be hearing confessions and helping in any way I can because of the remarkable graces that God gives at these Masses. The next Mass is scheduled for this Sunday (June 11th) and next month on July 9th. Confessions are heard at 2:00 p.m. and the Mass begins at 3:30 p.m. Bishop Barron said once that “we’re all in the same boat and we’re all sea sick.” If you’re tired of being sick, join us at the healing Mass sometime soon.
May God bless Father Burish, his parishioners, and all who are in need of His healing touch!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin