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New beginnings

Our Life here at Sacred Heart is in many ways a mirror of what is happening is our bigger world. Just as our children are getting ready to start a new academic year, and we are facing new restrictions with the surge in local Coronavirus cases, we are beginning a new part of our faith journey with a new pastor. For some, having a new pastor is an exciting time with new hope for others it is a time filled with worries of what will happen or what will change. As I shared in last week’s homily, our world will be filled with hope or fear depending on what we choose to focus on.

Perhaps sharing a little of my story will give everyone a greater sense of ease in this transition and with that I would share that I was born in a small town outside of my mother’s home in Cleveland Ohio. As my father was not fond of snow we moved to Jacksonville where I grew up the 5th of 5 children. There we all received a Catholic education through high school. In this time I earned Eagle Scout and went on to College at St Joseph’s in Philadelphia studying Finance and Economics, though I was considering priesthood the whole time.

After college, I knew God wanted me to serve Him in the Church and I joined a lay missionary program that led me to serve in the Baltimore Archdiocese as a counselor for the mentally challenged adults for several years. After this I transitioned into the airlines and travel industry for 10 years before I was able to hear my call to be a priest more clearly and I followed this call into the Franciscans with a desire to serve the poor, marginalized and migrant communities. I stayed there for 6 years before hearing a deeper call to the missionary life. I left the Franciscans and after various mission experiences, I found my full calling in the Claretian Missionaries inspired by St Anthony Claret’s love of God’s Word, of Mary, and an availability to go to where the need is the greatest.

I look forward to sharing the gifts God has given me with you. For those who are hopeful, remain hopeful, for those who may be fearful, I would remind you the one message that Jesus preached more than any other was, “Fear not.” Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pray for us!

Fr. Ray Smith, Parochial Administrator