Greetings from Fr. Nicholas...
Thank you for your warm welcome, it is exciting to be here at this vibrant St. Michael Parish. I am already inspired by the pastoral leadership of Fr. Charles Cimpl and the commitment of the dedicated Parish staff and all the volunteers. You do an amazing job to make St. Michael a very vibrant and a welcoming Parish. It is wonderful to see the church so full during the weekend Masses and witness your active participation during the Holy Eucharist. Fr. Chuck and Deacon John have been very helpful in introducing me to some of the out-reach ministries of the Parish. I have been a teacher at a seminary for many years and this is a wonderful opportunity to have an experience of a parish life and ministry. After arriving here at St. Michael Parish, I have been reflecting on things that have inspired me during my short time here in South Dakota. I would say that witnessing the ‘faith filled life’ of the Catholic faithful in South Dakota has been marvelous. In the past several months I was deeply inspired to see the Parish folks come to worship the Lord in the rain, hot and the cold freezing temperature of the winter. Another striking dimension is the collaborative ministry in the Parishes with an active participation of the lay faithful. This is a very powerful witness to me as compared to a very clerical church that I have witnessed back home in India. I have also been deeply touched by the support, welcome and good wishes of the parishioners in Pierre, Aberdeen and now here at St. Michael Parish in Sioux Falls.
In the recent issue of ‘Argus Leader’ dated, July 14th, there was a quote from Pope Francis about the recent World Cup soccer. He said, “The World Cup allowed people from different countries and religions to come together. May sport always promote the culture of encounter.” The word ‘encounter’ struck me. In India we often use this word to talk about ‘Fake encounters’ by the police and the army. In the counseling field, the term encounter is always used in a positive way. To begin a fruitful counseling, a counselor has to encounter a client at his/her level with an unconditional acceptance. In the past months, I have had powerful encounters with the faithful of Pierre and Aberdeen at hospitals, nursing homes, farms and in the Parish itself. I recall praying with a dying person in the hospital a few hours before his death. Although in pain, he sounded upbeat and really peaceful. It was such a powerful encounter to be able to pray with the person who was soon going to meet the Lord. When we come to Church with a sincere thirst for an encounter with Christ, we will encounter Him in the Holy Scripture, the Eucharist and one another. He comes to encounter us at our level/stage to empower us with healing, courage, inner strength, joy and peace. Christ accepts us unconditionally and our encounter with him gives us the courage to reach out and encounter Christ in others especially those in pain, suffering, and in the margins of our society.
Please pray for peace in the Middle-East especially Israel and Palestine, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq. The war and violence in our world continues to bring destruction, deaths, hatred, suffering and misery of thousands of innocent children and women. Many Christians have been displaced by these wars. As Christians we cannot remain indifferent to the pain, misery and suffering of others. May God’s peace reign in our hearts and in our fragile world that is often wounded with intolerance, violence and division.
God Bless you and have a wonderful week! Fr. D’Cruz Nicholas