Greetings to my new spiritual family at St. John the Evangelist!  I have the honor of succeeding Fr. Jim Shaver, after his 19 years as your beloved pastor.

As there is only one Fr. Jim, I’m not going to try to take his place, but I do hope to emulate how well he knew you all.

So, for this entire first year, I’m going to follow Pope Francis’advice to priests.  He said “Go out!”and “Be shepherds with the smell of the sheep!”

And so, in order to get to know you, I’m not going to wait for you to come to the church.  I’m going to go out and meet you in your very neighborhoods and homes.  But you might ask, “How am I going to do that, since visiting each home would probably take the 19 years Fr. Jim was the pastor?”

Well, here’s what I want to do, and I hope you respond to my invitation.  In fact, each of the parish households will be receiving a personal invitation, and it will be from me and one of your neighbors, someone who lives in your neck of the woods, inviting you to come to their place for a “fireside chat”for you to meet the new pastor…and hopefully, you’ll also get to meet some of your neighbors who you maybe did not even realize also go to St. John!

And don’t worry, I’m not going to give some long boring talk!  This is a chance for us to pop open a cold one and get to know one another.  I want you to tell me about my new home of Jack Town.  Growing up in Missouri and living in either Detroit or Ann Arbor since 1998, I don’t know much about it, so you can tell me all the great things to do here in the Rose City.  I want to know about the rich history of St. John the Evangelist, the mother church of Jackson, what you love about our parish, your cherished moments, and also our school and what your hopes for both of them are.

You can also ask anything under the sun about me, or better yet, about our wonderful new Pope Francis and the wild ride on which he’s been taking us.  It’s a great time to be Catholic!

And if you’re interested in opening up your home and being one of the hosts of these fireside chats, please let us know by calling Suzanne or Colleen at our parish office know.  They will be helping organize everything.  I hope to do  36 of these “fireside chats” in this first year, mostly on Thursday evenings, so we’ll be looking for 36 different parishioner homes all around the Jackson area to host these “meet the pastor” neighborhood gatherings.

So in the spirit of Pope Francis’ call to be a shepherd with the smell of the sheep, I invite you to please come to an informal fireside chat sometime between September and June, coming to a home near you!

Fr. Chas