The Letter from the Pastor—The New Year, 2021
The New Year appears to be better than 2020, at least from my perspective. The Archbishop of Newark has accepted Comboni Provincial Superior, Father Ruffino Ezama’s proposal of Comboni Father Chris Aleti as Parochial Vicar for St. Lucy’s Church. Father Chris will arrive on Saturday, 9 January 2021.
I first met Father Chris in 2014 when he arrived from the Holy Land to work State wise. I often refer to his native land as the Holy Land because of the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic martyrs. Kabaka Mwanga II executed them between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887. Paul VI canonized the Uganda Martyrs in 1964.
Father Chris studied theology in Nairobi, Kenya and had a memorable yearlong missionary experience in South Sudan before being ordained in 2003. He then worked in Uganda as chaplain for the youth of the diocese until 2013, when he did a sabbatical in Rome and then received the assignment to the States.
Though Father Chris is small in stature, he has a big heart. In his ministry in Uganda, he was struck by the hope that people brought to him as their servant. He is happy to have the opportunity to serve the community of St. Lucy.
Father Chris is departing the Comboni Center in LaGrange Park (Chicago), where he was Mission Office Director. I am grateful that he coming to St. Lucy. As you know, St. Lucy needs the service of more than one priest.
I worked nearly nine years in Uganda and then three and half in Nairobi, Kenya. My entire ministry was carried out in the area East of the Nile River, while Father Chris was born and raised in the land West of the Nile. Thus, there are differences of language, culture, and customs; nevertheless, it is all the Holy Land of Uganda.
Welcome, Father Chris!
A word about Epiphany
The prophet Isaiah aims a double imperative at the people themselves: “Arise! Shine!” These prophetic words come as the community returns from the Babylonian exile and survey the ruins of their once-great society and city. From where they stand the view is not encouraging.
The prophet wants the people to be moons to the divine sun. They must become a luminous community reflecting the light they receive. If Jerusalem is to be rebuilt, the nations must come together. There can be no more “us” and “them,” for mutual salvation, is a cooperative effort. Such transformation is doable, but a restored society won’t just drop down from heaven.
These words could apply to us experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic. We must become moons to the divine sun. We must become a luminous community reflecting the light we receive. Victory over Covid-19 can only be a cooperative effort. In short, we must wash our hands frequently, wear a facial mask, practice social distancing, and be vaccinated.