Dear Parishioners and Supporters of the Immaculate Conception Church,
As you read this message, I am heading back to Durham, after a nearly weeklong stay in Kansas City. There, along with several hundred other Franciscan friars from across the United States, I participated in the synodal Chapter of Unity. For us, this was a truly historical moment. I encourage you to read and find out more about it here.
I also would like to share with you some other important and personal news. My ministry as pastor of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is coming to an end. The Provincial Administration has assigned me to Siena College, a Franciscan school outside of Albany, N.Y. Effective, December 1, 2023, I will begin to minister there. I will focus on advancing the Franciscan values at that school and beyond, helping to implement the vision laid out by Pope Francis in his encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti and promoting integral ecology.
Fr. Manuel Viera, O.F.M. has been assigned to the Immaculate Conception Parish. Pending an official letter of appointment from the newly formed Administration of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province and Bishop Luis’ formal designation, Fr. Manuel will become a new pastor. Currently, Fr. Manuel is concluding his ministry as Judicial Vicar and Canonical Affairs Specialist with the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona. He has previously led a large parish and has substantial pastoral and administrative experience, in addition to being a very experienced canon lawyer. He is a highly regarded and respected Franciscan friar. I am happy and grateful that he has accepted to come to Durham and serve you as pastor. I have no doubt that he will continue to advance the life and mission of the Immaculate Conception Parish, building on its proud legacy and making his unique contributions. Fr. Manuel Viera will arrive at our parish by the weekend of November 4/5. I hope you will join me in giving him a warm welcome.
Transitioning to a ministry at Siena College will allow me to be more present and attentive to my elderly parents who are dealing with some debilitating health challenges. They live in Connecticut, just two hours of driving distance from Albany. They have given me so much love and support over the years. I am grateful to them for their sacrifices. Being more present to them as they face the vulnerabilities and fears in the sunset stage of their lives will allow me to be a better son and reciprocate some of the love that I have received from them.
I feel blessed and thankful for the privilege of partnering with you, as you so generously share your time, talent, and treasure at the service of the life and mission of Immaculate Conception Church - one of the best, most vibrant, mission-driven Franciscan parishes in the United States.
My further gratitude goes to you, to the Parish and School Staff members for your embrace of the Franciscan vision and of our collective commitment to Laudato Si’ Action Platform – a seven-year journey of transformation. The leadership and inspiration that you provide as a large multicultural parish within other Franciscan parishes across the country are praiseworthy. The newly promulgated apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis entitled Laudate Deumand and a new Franciscan pastor will further accompany you as a parish on this journey.
I will continue my ministry in Durham until the week before Thanksgiving. That means we will have some time before my departure to celebrate the many signs of God’s grace along our journey together.
Peace and all good,