To all of the parishioners and families of St. Anne’s:
Peace to you in Jesus Christ!
I have been informed by Bishop Malloy, the bishop of our diocese, that I am being assigned to a new parish. I am being moved from St. Anne’s to St. Peter Church in South Beloit, Illinois. My new assignment begins on July 1. This move was a surprise to me, as I had expected to serve here for many more years. However, out of filial obedience to the bishop, I have accepted the new assignment and am currently making plans for the move.
I speak from the heart when I say that I have been privileged to serve you. While not my first parish assignment as an administrator, St. Anne’s has been my first assignment as a pastor. My time here has been filled with joyful moments of celebration and success with all of you, as well as moments of sadness and loss. I know that I made many mistakes, and for those I am sorry. But, I also learned many lessons that I hope will mold me into a better priest for God’s Church.
The parish will be gaining its new pastor as I leave…and he might be someone familiar to you. Fr. Timothy Draper, who has been pastor in Amboy, Harmon, and Walton for the past several years, will be moving up the road and settling here in Dixon as your new pastor. Please welcome and greet him just as you did for me. Fr. Draper and I have been friends for a long time (and some people even think we look alike!), and I know that he will serve you with the heart of Jesus.
All I have left to offer you is my gratitude. Sadly, the limitations on gathering keep us from joining together and sharing our memories and messages of parting. But, I can still say that I am thankful for all that you have shared with me during my time here. Even the simplest handshakes at the door after Mass have been a blessing; and you have done so much more: you have shared your families, your stories, your hugs, and your worries. Thank you for trusting me with all of those things.
What I find beautiful about the Church is that, even if we are separated by large, physical distances, we are never far from each other. As a dear friend of mine always signs her letters, “I will see you in the Eucharist.” As long as we stay connected to Jesus in the Eucharist, we will always be one Body in Christ no matter where we are. We will always be a family in Jesus. So, as I take my leave, I take you with me and know that we are never far apart.
May the peace of Christ, which is beyond all understanding, guard and preserve you all.
With grateful heart,
Fr. Thomas J. Doyle, Jr.