Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Farewell Message from Fr. Larry
I learned just recently that, according to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, time passes more slowly at sea level than it does at higher elevations.(That would explain why I can still walk but I can’t remember where my shoes are.) I am not equipped to verify that theory scientifically. But existentially speaking, I have found that the 33 years over which I have served the academic community at “Connecticut College by the sea” passed exceedingly quickly. Although I have been at Conn for very nearly half my life, it seems as though I arrived only yesterday … well, OK maybe not yesterday but … not so long ago.
During that time the college has seen four presidents and graduated more than 14,000 students. The total enrolment has increased by about 350 and no, I did not know Katharine Blunt or Mary Harkness personally!
As many of you already know, I have been assigned to serve the people of Saint Joseph Church in Willimantic since November of 2010 while continuing with the ministry to the academic communities of Connecticut College and Eastern Connecticut State University. During this time Bishop Michael Cote has considered different models of campus ministry for us in the Diocese of Norwich, given the decreasing number of priests in active ministry. The new model is one in which the pastoral care for the Catholic community at a residential college or university is entrusted to the priest(s) of the local parish. For Connecticut College, even though Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Waterford is closer as the crow flies … or the camel walks … the college is located within the territory of Saint Mary, Star of the Sea on Huntington Street in New London.
The pastor of Saint Mary, Father Robert Washabaugh, who will be following me as your chaplain, is a great pastor of souls. He has met more than one challenge in his 34 years of priesthood (I know, I know. He wasn’t even two years ordained when I showed up here on the doorstep!). He is the founding pastor of the diocese’s only Latino parish (Sagrado Corazon in Windham), which helped him prepare for his current work as pastor of Saint Mary, a large, urban, working class, multi-cultural parish.
I am convinced that there is a synergy possible in this assignment which will enhance the life both of the college and of his parish. He is the fulfillment of the ideal campus minister defined by the Bishops Conference in 1985, a man with “… a solid faith, a love for the academic world, and the ability to relate well to both inquiring students and an educated faculty.” I know that when you meet him you will find Father Washabaugh prayerful, thoughtful, scholarly, witty and wise---not to mention self-deprecating and given to hyperbole (Oh, I guess I did mention it there!)---a man equal to the challenges of ministry on most college campuses these days, including Connecticut College.
Over the summer the pastoral care of Sagrado Corazon in Windham has been added to my portfolio. Turn around is fair play---he succeeds me and I succeed him. This is when I regret not having studied Spanish in high school or college. The people there are warm and welcoming and endlessly patient with my furtive efforts to communicate with them in something that vaguely resembles their native tongue.
If I wasn’t there when you needed me or if I disappointed you in some other way, please accept my sincere apology. Pray for me when you have a moment. Connecticut College past and present--and you in it--will always be in my heart, in my thoughts and in my prayers.
Father W. has decided Mass will be at 7 p.m. on Sundays, a time that we hope will be convenient for you. Please join him and other members of the community for worship. And please give him the same great measure of support you have always given me. Invite him to events on campus and to dinner in Harris. Come to Mass early and help him set up the altar. Volunteer to read and help with communion and community dinners.
I remember my godfather saying (with increasing frequency as he aged) “If I had my way, I’d never grow old.” Those were the days before Google and I didn’t realize then that his saying was a paraphrase of the opening line of a song from 1913, or that at least for 33 years I would very nearly live out the fulfillment of that wish … but then, for a few hours each week, I did live at sea level.
Always devotedly yours,
Posted by Barb Nagy at 11:26 AM