September 2011

Saint Mary Parish

German Village

Dear Saint Mary Parishioners,

Over thirty-two years ago Bishop Edward Herrmann ordained me a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus in my home parish Newark Saint Francis de Sales. My Perry, Fairfield, and Licking County roots have given me a deep appreciation for the land and the seasons of planting and harvesting from the fertile soil. My own contemplative spirituality has been enriched by the rhythms of these past twenty years serving the good people of Lancaster Saint Mary and Chillicothe Saint Mary. Near the time I was receiving my First Holy Communion, Archbishop Fulton Sheen was writing The Priest Is Not His Own. He emphasized the need for holiness, purity and prayer - especially the daily holy hour. Our college students introduced me to Father Thomas Dubay, S.M.’s Fire Within - St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel - on Prayer. This rediscovery of my spirituality at the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. has profoundly shaped our parish faith journey as we begin together. My heartfelt embrace of the monastic spirituality of Pope Benedict XVI reflects “ora et labora - prayer and work.” I am most appreciative of the excellent foundations of our former pastors and Father Shawn Corcoran and Father Sylvester Onyeachonam after the death of Father Ted Thomas - a beloved priest friend - on Easter Sunday.

We all have been moved by the passion, presence and priesthood of Pope John Paul II captured so well by Cardinal Avery Dulles in The Splendor of Faith - The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II. Father Dulles was my professor at the Catholic University of America and gave me an appreciation for scholarship and humility. I always loved serving holy Mass growing up and have been profoundly moved the dedication of our own liturgical ministers. I have tried to embrace the anawim of Yahweh - our youth, elderly, poor, imprisoned and infirmed. I draw strength from the Sacraments and savor opportunities to evangelize and share our Catholic faith. All are welcome!

We have a very dedicated staff, many volunteers and an awesome school that bring joy to my heart. Towards the close of the second millennium of Christianity Bishop James Griffin named me Exemplary Pastor of my first parish in Chillicothe and at the close of this first decade of the third millennium of Christianity Bishop Frederick Campbell named me Exemplary Pastor of Lancaster Saint Mary - both anchored around my love for Catholic Education. While Vicar of Catholic Charities and Social Concerns for the Diocese, my profound respect for all people was enriched. My first twelve years of priesthood centered around the Columbus community and it is good to return home. May we be infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, embraced by the love of the Father and passionately and profoundly in love with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. All of us together in prayer, work, and play are Exemplary! Our rich legacy reflected in our Museum in our Specht Center is a tribute to our proud heritage. In a spirit of humility, I am pleased to serve as your ninth pastor.


Father Don Franks