As of this week, St. Anthony’s ends a chapter in her history only to begin a new one. On the first of July 1, I will be leaving St. Anthony’s to become the pastor of St. Anne’s in Grants Pass. On that same day, your new pastor, Fr. Jeff Meeuwsen, will begin his first appointment as a pastor here at St. Anthony’s. These changes are always difficult for the priests and communities involved. I know that Fr. Jeff will receive the warmest of welcomes akin to how you welcomed me. He is a fantastic priest. I know you will quickly come to love him. Indeed, many of you already do since you are related. The Meeuwsen name is right up there with Van Dyke, Vandehey, etc. You are receiving one of your own local boys.
I have so many memories that I will take with me. Some have been sad and stressful, but these are far and few between. Overwhelmingly, are the times of joy and amazement at the greatness of God’s work amidst all of you. It has been truly a privilege to be your shepherd these past seven years. I arrived on the coattails of controversy when stability was needed. I believe I offered that. In my tenure, I believe it is fair to say that the amount of involvement and number of ministries has expanded. I inherited a great staff and have tried to continue that excellence as I hired new members. Our youth have found a renewed involvement and our Hispanic community has grown, moving from guest to host in our community. St. Anthony’s is and will continue to be the jewel of the Archdiocese. I will take all my experiences and lessons from here and share them with my new community in the south.
Please pray for me. My new assignment is daunting. The sheer complexity makes me hesitate. But, I know that God is in control and has a plan. I trust in his providence and love. This is no pollyannish thing, but one founded in the events that have taken place here at St. Anthony’s. I have been witness to many miracles, and they simply confirm that God is at work and is very interested in our lives.
Please pray for Fr. Jeff. One’s first role as pastor is difficult no matter where it is. Yet, I believe that he will find St. Anthony’s to be a life-giving place to do ministry. I know that you will teach him as you did me. I know that you will love him as you did me.
Finally, I say goodbye, a term derived from the phrase, “God be with you.” I leave with a heavy heart for myself and you, but a joyful heart for all the things God is going to do for all of us. God is so loving and has great plans. Let us all go headlong into this new chapter of our lives confident in God’s loving care.
Fr. William Holtzinger