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  • Writer's pictureChurch of St. Mark

From the Heart of the Shepherd

By Fr. Alvaro Perez, PES - Former Associate Pastor

From the bulletin for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 04, 2024)

From the Hearts of Former Shepherds: Where Are They Now Edition

Note: this article will hopefully be the first in a (likely) sporadic series of updates from PES priests who have previously served at St. Mark’s. To date, eight priests have passed through the parish and on to other pastures, five of whom received their priestly formation here in St. Paul and spent their first years of priestly ministry at our parish. They send these updates in a spirit of  gratitude for their time at St. Mark’s and for the role our parishioners had in preparing them for what has come after. The first article is from a former associate pastor from 2015-2018, who was visiting in MN last week.

As I return to California, I want to update you about my ministry and mission of Pro Ecclesia Sancta in the Golden State. But first, a quick introduction since I am glad to see that St. Mark's continues to grow. There are many new faces that I don't recognize. I am Father Alvaro Perez, and I was here at St. Mark's from 2009 to 2018. We (Fr. Humberto, Fr. Adam, and myself) were the first Pro Ecclesia Sancta members to arrive in Minnesota. We like to call each the OGs (Original Gang). It is neat and surprising that after almost six years since I left, St. Mark's still feels like home to me. Our good Lord and His words remain true: "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life." (Mt 19:29).

I am the pastor of a beautiful parish in North Highlands, California. It is a thriving community with many strong ministries and new initiatives already in progress or in the pipeline. There is a running joke that the ministry's most challenging part is finding an available room to meet. We just finished a confirmation retreat for ninety six Confirmandi led by Fr. Adam with excellent results. Two years ago, we embarked on the adventure of a new Catholic High School - Chesterton Academy of Sacramento. We started with a big group of twenty-seven, and this year, we have forty three. We pray that we will double our current number next year, if God permits.

In the years that I have been in California, I have been back to MN several times. But this is the only time I have been able to stay for a weekend and see the community gathered for Sunday Mass. Perhaps for that reason, this visit has been the most rewarding, and humbling too. Humbling because I have realized that those who have come after me are doing an even better job than the first ones. Also because the little kids I met when I arrived are now big and sometimes taller than me. Rewarding because I leave full of confidence in your parish's future because the Lord’s hand continues to guide it and bless it. St. Mark's is a unique parish and will become a beacon for many souls trying to navigate the waters of life. I invite you to challenge your priests to endeavor in even more apostolates. I encourage you to give more of your life to God because He is trustworthy, and He has given all for us.

Non Suffict Mundus - the world is not enough for those who love Jesus!

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