Here's the text of what was announced at Mass this weekend (and included in the bulletin as an insert). Fr. Trask's comments, as well as those shared by Fr. Cole with parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish, are posted beneath the diocesan announcement. Click either of the first 2 letters for a full-size version (it'll open in another window):

After having read the Diocesan letter to the parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish, Fr. Robert Cole shared the following comments:

For over a year now I have had some health issues, some you know about, and others you don’t. After discussion with Bishop Perez, as was said in the letter, he has granted me retirement effective July 1st. Fr. David Trask, the pastor of St. Patrick’s in Wellington, will become the new pastor of Sacred Heart as of that date. Fr. Trask will continue also on as the pastor of St. Pat’s.

I know you will have many questions and concerns so let me make some things very clear.

First of all, I have health issues but I’m not dying. I’m just finding it more and more difficult to do every day what needs to be done as an active pastor.

Second, Sacred Heart is not closing. St. Patrick’s is not closing. And Sacred Heart is not merging with St. Patrick’s. They will remain two separate parishes sharing one pastor. Every week Fr. Trask intends to maintain an active presence here at Sacred Heart by keeping office hours and spending some evenings and nights. Details of this will be worked out in the coming months.

And third, Deacon Tom remains assigned to Sacred Heart. There is no change to his status.

As the Bishop said, this coming Wednesday, representatives from his office will be coming here to meet with you to hear your concerns and address any questions you may have. I encourage you to attend. At the same time that evening a similar meeting will be held at St. Patrick’s.

Obviously, it will be necessary to make adjustments to the weekend and weekday Mass schedules at both parishes to enable Fr. Trask to be present. No decisions will be made to the schedules before first getting input from you. We will do that at a town hall meeting at 7 pm on the Monday after Easter, April 2. I hope you will come to that meeting so we can hear your thoughts.

I know this comes as a surprise but in this kind of issue nothing is definite until the Bishop formally gives his permission. I received this letter just this past Friday so only now am I able to publicly talk about it. In July I’ll be 73 years old so my retirement is simply moving up by two years what would have normally happened at 75.

As I prepare to turn the page to a new chapter in my life, I realize that it’s a new chapter in the life of Sacred Heart Parish as well. But it’s also a time of great opportunity for both of us and that should be exciting. I know Fr. Trask is looking forward to coming here and discovering for himself what you and I already know, that Sacred Heart is alive and vibrant and that we celebrate the Eucharist with faith and conviction. During these next 3½ months as we work out the adjustments that will have to be made, let’s do so knowing that with Fr. Trask this parish will continue to be a blessing to us and to our city.

Fr. Robert Cole