July 26, 2021
My Dear Friends and Fellow Parishioners,
It is with a modicum of sadness—but never-the-less great joy—I am sharing some personal news with you all; after twenty-five years as a parishioner, staff member, and Deacon, I am moving on from Saint Joseph Catholic Community where my vocation was formed.
The decision to ask for re-assignment has not come easily; I have been called to serve the underserved.
For many years now, there has been a great need for Deacons to serve in the environs of the inner city and its surroundings. As such, a call has gone out the last few years for Deacons to volunteer to serve in these underserved and poorer parishes.
In keeping with Pope Francis’ call not only to Priests, but all his clergy in 2013:
The priest who seldom goes out of himself … misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart… … [T]his is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in a sense collectors of antiquities or novelties — instead of being shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep.’ This is what I am asking you — be shepherds with the smell of sheep.
—Pope Francis’ address to the world’s priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, March 28, 2013
Fulfilling my beloved Marianist Charism of being formed by Mary for the Mission of Christ to form persons and communities in faith for social transformation, mission, oriented toward communities of inclusivity, collaboration and collegiality with the laity—and after much prayer and discernment, I felt a profound call to serve at one of these inclusive multi-cultural parishes.
As of August 1st, 2021, I will be serving at Saint Gabriel Catholic Church in Woodlawn. Monsignor Phillips, the Pastor, has been without a Deacon for over ten years.
Through discernment with the Holy Spirit, my decision is based on the Marianist credo Do whatever He tells you (John 2:5), and emblematic of understanding the importance of the discipleship of equals (another Marianist spiritual characteristic), I have chosen to listen to that “still small voice” once again in this move.
From the moment my family and I walked through the doors of the Little Church on the Hill in Sykesville in 1996 for the twelve o’clock Mass, I knew God had brought us to a very special place—truly an extraordinary community of believers.
I thank my Marianist Brothers and especially Father Paul Reich+, my Marianist formator, for imbuing and building a sense of humility of service to the community in my heart which will stay with me till the end of my days.
Throughout my time at Saint Joseph my life has been profoundly enriched by God’s abundant grace, which has been overwhelmingly mediated through all of you to me. In your “yes” to God, I have come to know God in ways that I would never have imagined. I have loved every moment in service to our Lord and, of course you, the community of Christ.
I will cherish my time and the memories at my beloved Saint Joseph; all the special events and dear people which (and whom) I have partaken and met, will form fond memories for me in the future.
Most of all I will especially treasure all of my personal interactions with you, the people of God.
It has been my great honor to preside at—and witness—the marriages of many of the children Doris and I catechized in eighth- grade religious education some years ago, and subsequently baptize their babies.
I have been humbled to be asked to comfort the families of friends I have ministered with and preside at their funerals and burials.
As Pastoral Associate for the Initial Sacraments where, with the help of countless volunteers, I was honored to guide hundreds of children and their parents through the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Eucharist.
As the servant leader of the Baptismal program, I welcomed and instructed new parents on our theology of baptism (and subsequently received hundreds of children into our universal church).
Within my Beloved Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and Children, I was privileged to assist Father Paul Reich+ as we received over 210 people into the church at the Easter Vigil over eleven years with the help of countless sponsors and volunteers.
All of these are cherished experiences and honored milestones of my service to God through Christ. I cannot begin to tell you of all of the numerous times my life has been gladdened by the participants, volunteers and sponsors, and, of course, you the parishioners, my friends, as you supported and encouraged me on my journey to God!
Through all of this cherished time, the Holy Spirit has continually spoken to my heart and moved me, and I thank God for the direction the Holy Spirit has given me now as I undertake a new beginning.
I have been especially heartened by your concern for me this last year as I experienced some personal difficulties; I know that many of you have prayed for me, and are continuing to pray for me, and for this you have my eternal heartfelt appreciation. I ask you all to continue to pray for me as I embark on this time of transition.
Finally, as many of you know over the last twenty years, moved to action by the Holy Spirit my wife, Doris, and I have—with your extraordinary financial support and inspirational spirit—built and maintained a school in Mórrope, Peru. Over this period, with the support of the Parish, we have educationally prepared and sent well over five hundred impoverished young adults to universities and trade schools all throughout Peru.
For this wonderful outpouring of generosity once again we give you our eternal thanks.
In closing, please know I will continue to keep you all and the parish staff in my prayers. Remember the friendships Doris and I have built over these twenty five years are not ending. We are just a call or an email away.
Lovingly, In the Service of Jesus and in the Spirit of Mary,
Deacon Vito S. Piazza, Sr.