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Message from Fr. Jerry


Dear Friends,

             Isolation.  Thanks to the Corona Virus outbreak it is a word in our daily lexicon that we have come to despise.  For many, normal life fills their days with so much that they can barely catch their breath.   So staying home and separated from others and else in the world can seem to be so useless.  We know that the health care experts have told us that the “cure” to this outbreak is to STAY HOME.  Yet in our boredom and loneliness we are tempted not to believe it; that there must be something else we should do.

             Yet the unique legacy of our parish offers us some insight into isolation.  Our founder Saint John Neumann lived a life of isolation.  When he left his hometown in Bohemia to come to the New World, he left without even saying farewell to his parents.  He made the lonely journey to America unsure if he would find a prelate that would ordain him.  Once the Bishop of New York ordained him, the young Father Neumann was sent to Buffalo----might as well have been another planet, so far and unknown to his hometown.

   In 1836 when John Neumann celebrated his first mass in our roofless chapel, the  townsfolk threw rocks, corncob and manure over the walls at him.  How that moment had to be one of total separation and isolation for him!  Yet while here in Williamsville he barely set put---our baptism records show how he traveled throughout Western New York—to Niagara Falls, Lockport, Batavia and elsewhere, baptizing and bringing the sacraments.  He wouldn’t stay here long, but would walk throughout the northeast U.S,, establishing hundreds of parishes and schools.  So much so that by 48 years if age he would die of consumption, a full life but one perpetually characterized by isolation.

             Our patron Saint Paul also led a life of isolation.  After he met Jesus on the road to Damascus he spent years in exile waiting for the resentment and distrust his former life created to settle down.  Even when he returned, he never really set down roots travelling to one foreign community after another to bring the gospel of Jesus.  Imprisonment, stoning, torture and rejection often greeted him wherever he went.  He eventually would die in Rome, a long way from his hometown of Tarsus and nowhere near the Church in Jerusalem.  Another life of isolation totally spent.

             Both Saint John Neumann and Saint Paul lived lives of isolation and yet so prolific.  The isolation they was never an obstacle for them.  Perhaps isolation helped them to hear God’s Word more clearly.  Perhaps isolation prevented the expectations of the world from distracting them from their true calling.  Perhaps their isolation ensured that their true peace was never trampled by the momentum life often demands.  Perhaps their isolation is a lesson for us in ours.

             May the isolation of these times reveal the depth of God’s Spirit planted within you and make your life rich in the revelation of His loving grace.  Know that I am with you,


                                                                        In prayer and spirit

                                                                        Father Jerry Kopec