Saturday, 9 May 2020

Fr Dylan James is Leaving

Dear Parishioners,

I write to you with some significant news, news that I realise comes amidst a time of great uncertainty.  The news is this: I will be leaving the parish this summer to take up a full-time seminary post.  I make this announcement to you now, some months before I go, so that key parish workers can understand why I’m organising various things even amidst the COVID19 situation.

When I was appointed here, four years ago, I expected to be here much longer, and like every new parish priest I hoped to have a period of time to build up certain initiatives in the parish.  While I hope the parish has benefitted from what I have offered you, I realise that I am leaving with a sense of a work still in progress.  I’m sad to feel that I've not been able to achieve more for you and with you.  I hope, nonetheless, that I’ve offered you something that has helped parishioners individually and helped the community of the parish as a whole.  Any priest knows that his time in a parish is transitory, knows that he serves at the will of the Bishop, and that parish work is only one of the ways we can be called upon to serve.

What has interrupted my appointment in West Moors?  
The papal nuncio has asked our Bishop to appoint me to the Josephinum Seminary (see here and here) in the USA.  The Josephinum is a 'pontifical seminary', meaning that it is established not by an individual bishop for an individual diocese or country, but directly under the pope.  It thus recruits priests widely.  It’s the only pontifical seminary outside of Italy.  As our Bishop pointed out to me, there is no Catholic institution of this size or status in the UK to compare it to.  
For me personally, this means I will be working for 6 years in a region of the USA where I have family (my Mom is from Illinois and I’m an American citizen).  The new seminary rector and two members of the board of governors at the Josephinum knew me from when I studied in Rome.  

I leave West Moors grateful to a great many of you for many things.  For me personally, one of the sadnesses of the current situation is that it seems likely that I won’t be able to see you personally to express my thanks to you.  While we don’t know what the months ahead hold, it seems quite possible that I will leave the parish before public Mass has resumed.  This will make the transition between me and my successor difficult for both the parish and for my successor.  While I haven’t yet been told who my successor will be, I ask you to pray for him as he prepares to come here.  I will be praying for you, as individuals and as a parish community.  I had expected to plan a proper farewell, but COVID19 will sadly prevent that.  The lockdown context is an especially hard way to go. 

As more details become clear (my successor, the date of my departure, etc) I’ll let you know.

Please let others know.  I am emailing 130 parishioners, and will announce this via YouTube at Mass, but I regret that due to the lockdown there will be many I won't be able to tell directly.

May God bless you all,
Fr Dylan James
10th May 2020

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