By now, you have heard the letter from Archbishop Blair which was read last weekend at all Masses or at least you have heard something about what the letter said. It speaks of a time of change and adjustment that is coming upon us as of June 29. As Archbishop Blair indicated, on that date St. Mary Parish will merge with St. Agnes Parish, both in Milford, and a new parish, Precious Blood Parish, will be formed. It is important to note that come June 29, both St. Mary Church and St. Agnes Church will remain open and both will retain their names as dedicated. The merger of the two parishes requires the establishment of a new legal and canonical corporate structure, and as such, on June 29, both St. Mary Parish and St. Agnes Parish will no longer exist. The churches will retain their names but the parishes will be no more. What will come into existence is Precious Blood Parish.
Some have indicated a sense of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with the name. Archbishop Blair made the decision as to the name of the new parish, and in so doing, he had to take into account the situation from which the new parish emerges. My thinking on this is as follows and it is somewhat theological. The Blessed Virgin Mary, the patroness of our parish, as Mother of God, gave Jesus his humanity, a body like ours of flesh and blood. Because of this, Jesus could die for us, shedding his blood so that sins may be forgiven and we might be redeemed by his precious blood. St. Agnes was an early martyr of the Church, dying at the age of twelve in an act of powerful witness and love for Jesus. Thus, the choice of Precious Blood for the name of the new parish. It will require some getting used to, to be sure, but please keep in mind that the churches keep the names that we have come to know and love over so many years.
As of June 29, I am appointed as pastor of the new parish. Fr. Francis Callahan, who has served so capably and so well as pastor of St. Agnes Parish for just shy of forty years, will assume Senior Priest status. He will continue to reside at St. Agnes Rectory and will assist with Masses as he is able to do so. The priests of the new parish of the Precious Blood, myself included, will reside here on Gulf Street and we will assume responsibility for the pastoral care of the new parish, which will have a census of somewhere between 4500 and 5000 families.
As things unfold, we will go slowly and carefully as we strive to bring these two communities of faith which will comprise almost two-thirds of the Catholic population of Milford together. We will have a new parish council, a new finance council and new trustees, all representative of both communities of faith coming together as one. There will be adjustments and tweaking of Mass schedules and perhaps parish personnel as we go forward. All of this will be necessary but it will take place with great care, sensitivity and time. I ask for and I know that I will receive the cooperation of all in our new parish. I firmly believe that this new parish brings with it enhanced numbers of people and resources, and moving forward together in faith, hope and love with the grace of God we will do great things for the Lord in our part of Milford.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to speak to me or send them to me in writing via email. As you read these words, I am away on vacation, one that was planned back in January. I will return this Thursday, May 18. For your reference, a copy of the letter from Archbishop Blair which I read last weekend is included with this bulletin.
Have a good week!
Rev. Aidan N. Donahue