I flew down to the Tampa International Airport and the Diocese of Saint Petersburg on Wednesday night, February 8, to be warmly greeted by our Parochial Vicar at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish (SVDP), Holiday, Florida, Father Dominic Long SSS. Once at the house, Father William (Bill) Fickel, SSS, pastor for the last nine years here at SVDP, also was there to warmly greet me and share with me the joys of living in this great community of faith and the schedule for the following days. I began my Thursday morning with a 7 am International Theological Commission meeting (via Roma and Zoom with SSS men in Kinshasa, Colombo, Madrid, Rome, Ho Chi Minh City, and me in Florida). This three-hour meeting began my day and got me into the mindset of the internationality of the Eucharist, the international living of our charism, and what each of us associated with the Eymardian Family are about in living the Eucharist in our day and time. Later Thursday morning, I met with the SVDP Pastoral Staff, praying the Sunday scriptures with them and hearing how the parish has emerged from the pandemic. The SVDP Society is quite active in the parish, taking the name and charism of their patron saint seriously. Many members, even Associates (Aggregation) of the Blessed Sacrament, serve weekly and proudly at their food pantry and wear their Aggregation crosses with their blue SVDP Society polo shirts.
Pictured are SVDP staff with Father Lane
On Monday, February 13, I flew to San Antonio to meet with our community of Father Norman Pelletier SSS, pastor of Saint Joseph Downtown, and Father Joseph Thai Minh Tran SSS, Parochial Vicar. We met for lunch to discuss the Province of Saint Ann financial picture in preparation for our commission meeting later in the week. Later on, I had a pastoral meeting and introduction with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San
Antonio to discuss the pastoral planning of the Archdiocese, especially in light of the synodal process. Archbishop Gustavo has a long history with our community, having worked with us in his vicariate in Chicago when he was auxiliary bishop there. We traced our long history, and he shared his gratitude for our witness, but especially the growing witness of our Associates in the Archdiocese. (John Thomas Lane SSS)
Pictured are [L-R] Father Joseph Thai Tran, Father Lane, Bishop Gustavo, and Father Norman Pelletier; bottom photo are Associates at San Antonio