Franciscan

Fond farewell in Galveston

Friars, parishioners celebrate their time together

BY FR. MARK SOEHNER, OFM

"Life is changed, not ended": These words from the First Preface for the Dead have become an anthem in my life. When I left my beloved role as pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in 2008, I was blessed with a six-month sabbatical in the high desert above Santa Fe at Sangre de Cristo. There, I learned to let go of many things that had taken up my concern.

One of the teachers who came in for a week of art showed some of his work. A beautiful lithograph entitled "Mourning Angel" shows an angel with a hand of comfort and sadness caressing a tombstone. The words under it are, "Life is changed, not ended", in Latin, Vita mutatur, non tollitur. That captured my experience. All that seemed so precious or important or even annoying was changing.

This could be the way the friars who have served so faithfully in Galveston and Lafayette feel about leaving such beloved sites. In both Galveston and Lafayette, we went there about the same time in 1980. Both places had so many friars who ministered there. Some were in more permanent roles of pastor or chaplain; others came for a "formation experience". Both places tantalized us with a similar style of fresh seafood: gumbo, etouffee, shrimp, oysters, even ‘gator!

And our life as a Province has grown richer because of people to whom we were sent. We learned how to be better men, better Christians, better followers of Francis. So many stories were shared in our time together in Galveston – some with laughter, some with sadness. One friend told me that she was wearing purple for mourning. And we will miss these places and people, too.

Life is changed for us, not ended. God continues to encourage us into a new journey, different from what we could see in 1980 – or even three years ago. My friend Fr. Jim Willig used to say, "I don’t know what the future holds. But I know Who holds the future." Can we entrust the care of our lives to the One Who led us to Lafayette and Galveston, and now calls us to a new journey?

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