March 16, 2009

Dear Parishioners,

On the weekend of March 14/15th, I announced at all the Masses that I had been given a new parish assignment that will be effective July 1. Since then, I have received a wonderful outpouring of love from all of you. Thank you so very much. The seven years I have been your shepherd have been truly wonderful! I love being a priest. I love being your pastor. I love the community of St. Anthony’s. Leaving will be one of the hardest things I have ever done. So, believe me when I say that I did not make this decision lightly.

Some questions have come forward about why I am leaving. Some have wondered if there were things going on in the parish that motivated my decision. The simple answer is no. The parish is alive and well. We have a great staff. The ministries have wonderful leaders. The sense of community is strong, and the involvement level is high. I have agreed to leave because I have been asked to go, the need is real, and ultimately I am not my own (cf. 1 Cor 6:19b). If I had a sense that we were in the midst of some turbulent problems, I would have made the case to the Archdiocese that a change should be postponed. But, we're not. I trust that St. Anthony’s will be given a pastor who will lead the community well. I have no personal desire to go, for I am very happy and comfortable here. I love you all. You have taught me so much about how to be a loving pastor. Yet, my heart tells me that it is the right thing to do.

I have been preaching since my first day here about the need for conversion of heart and conviction to follow Jesus wherever that may take us. This message is also for me. If I do not heed the words of my own preaching, what kind of priest would I be? I would certainly not be a man of integrity. I would be akin to a “noisy going or a clanging symbol” (1 Cor 13:1). My calling as a preacher would ultimately profit me nothing.

I do not know much about the path that lies before me, but maybe that’s part of the deal. If I have been called to imitate the one who leads us all, then I must follow in his footsteps no matter what. I desire holiness and joy, and I know that the only way to holiness and joy is through the cross. The wonderful thing is that I am not alone. I know that you join me in that journey.

I am not one to leave things unfinished. I am not one to run when things get tough. I pledge to continue shepherding with zeal until my last day. St. Anthony’s is a vibrant parish and is doing well. Remember that I am not St. Anthony’s. You, the community, are. In the 3.5 months that remain for me here, let us continue our journey together. May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the rock of our salvation. He is our comforter. He is our all in all! Come Lord Jesus! (cf. Heb. 12:1-2, Ps. 95:1, Zech. 1:17, 1 Cor. 15:28, Rev. 22:20) Let us continue to celebrate his presence in our midst. He does not leave us alone.

Finally, please pray for me. Please pray for our staff. Please pray for our new, yet-to-be-chosen pastor. Pray that we will all continue on the road of conversion and conviction. May all we do, proclaim Christ crucified and risen.

Blessings in Christ,

Fr. William Holtzinger

“I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the LORD, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (Lamentations 3:22-24)