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St. Joseph and the child Jesus at St. Joseph’s Monastery’s Abbey Church

Dear Garrett, 

A few months before your leaving our Isabelle Celeste was born! I can’t believe that now she is the same age that you were when you took your leave. I see her so full of life, promise, and possibility and can not imagine losing her . . . but your story is a constant reminder that life sometimes unfolds in unimaginable ways.

Last year, on the fifth anniversary of your leaving I thought I was writing my last letter to you. It seemed fitting to end my conversation with you at that time. But as another July got closer, I knew that I could not, that there was more to tell you about, that your visitations were still an inspiration.

The last year I have done much reflection on my vocation. Pastoral ministry, the work of curing of souls is at times as overwhelming as it is life giving. I’ve wondered, like I have wondered since I began this work, whether I am being faithful to God’s call in my life. Am I in a role that best allows me to be an effective disciple, an effective instrument of God’s kingdom? If not pastoral ministry, then what? 

Well, you know the answer to these questions: Yes, Juan!!! Stop wondering and keep on leading, curing, and proclaiming! (and stop the pity party ;-)) 

This year someone recommended a wonderful book called If You Know Who You Are, You Will Know What To Do by Ronald Greer. I can say with much confidence that the process surrounding your leaving, even though it soured Julys forever, was one of the key markers that allowed me to “know who I am,” and has continued to clarify for me not just what I am to do as a follower of Jesus, but continues to inspire me, convict me, and thrust me to be passionate about the church’s call to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the world. 

I was telling the people of St. John’s your story recently and how each time I stood behind the table to share the bread and the cup that you were standing by me, your arms moving with mine as we gesture together across time and space (kairos time), united by the promise of the great banquet were we will feast together. Till then I’ll take the rehearsals for they remind me again and again that although life unfolds in unimaginable ways, that God’s presence is with us, the promise of resurrection keeping us hopeful in the midst of hopelessness, keeping us awake when we are tempted to go to sleep, and keeping us alive when we are tempted by death.

We’ll keep at it  . . . see you at the great feast!

Peace & Love, Juan+ 

P.S. I do hope to bring life again to spiritstirrer.org. Writing, as you know, feeds my soul!

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Be a hero, Donate Life! If you want to know G’s story click here.

Here are the previous yearly notes: In Memoriam, II, III, IV, V.