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Pastor's Letters


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I want you to know that I have been praying for you and your loved ones throughout these past several months, and all the more so over the past few weeks, after learning of my appointment to take on the pastoral care of Saint Mary’s and eventually the Church of New Haven. As this Second Sunday of Advent marks my first Sunday as your new pastor, the words of Saint Paul from today’s second reading have shaped my prayer and vision for us as a parish family for the weeks ahead, as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ anew into our hearts and into our world.

I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God (Phil 1:46, 811).

In his letter to the parish a few weeks ago, Fr. John Paul also invoked the words of Saint Paul as he reflected on the legacy of the Dominican friars who have “planted and watered” Saint Mary’s since their coming to New Haven. And then he said, “now it is time for the friars to hand the task of planting and watering back to priests of the archdiocese.” Similar to when Fr. John Paul arrived to Saint Mary’s just over six years ago, this is my first appointment as pastor of a parish. I could not be more grateful to Fr. John Paul, for his priestly example, as well as his generosity, prayers, and fraternal support as we worked together over these last few weeks to make this as smooth a transition as possible. Having been formed in a special way by the people of Saint Mary’s (without their even knowing it) when as a seminarian I studied and served in local archdiocesan ministries and parishes in and around New Haven with Saint Mary’s as my home base, having prayed here at the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney in preparation for parish priesthood, and having had the privilege of working closely with and learning from Fr. John Paul throughout these past six years as priests serving together in this Archdiocese, it is with deep humility, gratitude, and trust in God’s providence that I pick up where he and others left off.

In that spirit, I want to assure you that I have no hidden agenda. I am not planning to implement any broad, sweeping changes to the life and culture of Saint Mary’s nor have I been charged to do so by the Archbishop. I assure you that the primary identity of Saint Mary's as an orthodox, vibrant Catholic parish WILL NOT change. This will continue to be a place where God is worshipped with the utmost reverence and joy, where the truth is preached in love, the Gospel is proclaimed unapologetically, and individuals and families, both in the pews and those who are searching, journey ever closer to Christ together. That being said, I cannot promise that nothing will change. As in all times of change and transition, some of the secondary and tertiary logistical details of the parish WILL change. For example, effective this Sunday, the 9 am Mass at Saint Joseph has moved to 8:30 AM. This is in order to allow for Fr. Anthony and myself the ability to greet parishioners, celebrate a reverent and unrushed liturgy with proper music and even celebrate two masses in a row when necessary. Over the next several months, I, in collaboration with the pastors and the Catholic faithful of New Haven, will analyze all times of Masses and devotions throughout the city of New Haven, both daily and weekend, so as to provide the best options for all, to extend opportunities for participation, and allow our priests not to have to “run” from one Church to the other.

I assure you that if and when changes do happen, they will be well thought out, communicated in a clear and timely manner, keeping the spiritual good of all the faithful at the forefront, and with their due consultation.

I understand that the last several months have been extremely difficult for you. I understand that many of you feel that you have been treated uncharitably, and with a lack of transparency, as to the decisions that have been made around pastoral planning, and the role that Dominican and Diocesan clergy play in planning for the future of the Church at Saint Mary’s, the City of New Haven, and in the wider Church. I understand that many feel that, aside from within the local and national Catholic and secular print and social media, their voices have not been heard. I understand that many of you have questions and concerns about the future, and as your pastor, I assure you that all will have their opportunity to be heard, perhaps in the form of listening sessions, town hall style meetings, and SWOT planning sessions at the start of the New Year.

In the meantime, I pray that we all might heed the Baptist’s cry to “prepare the way of the Lord” and “make straight his paths.” Let us embrace this grace filled season with anxious anticipation for the coming of Jesus Christ. In addition to the Advent events already planned for the parish, Fr. Anthony and I are exploring additional ways to make this season prayerful, holy and memorable.

Finally, as we have been praying, and promise to continue praying for you, I ask you to please pray for Fr. Anthony, Deacon Ernie Scrivani, Deacon Marty O’Connor, the Parish Staff and myself, as we move together through this Advent Season and into a new year in the history of Saint Mary’s.

A very Blessed Advent to you and your loved ones.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Ryan


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