July 30, 2023

Dear parish family,

As we find ourselves amidst the height of summer, I pray you are finding respite from the relentless heat. This season often encourages a slower pace as vacations begin and the sweltering temperatures command our need for rest. Some of you might be taking advantage of the warm weather, visiting family, or exploring new places. Others may find contentment in the simplicity of staying at home, cherishing the familiar. No matter where you find yourself, I encourage you to keep our Lord central to your activities.

As we juggle our seasonal routines, filled with trips, tasks, or tending to our homes and families, especially our children and teenagers who are off school, we might inadvertently allow our spiritual commitments to slide into the background. However, let’s remember that even in our busiest moments, when we might forget God, He never forgets us. He is ever aware of our struggles, joys, hopes, and dreams. His love, attention, and understanding extend into each corner of our lives, never losing sight of us, as we are indeed the “apple of His eye” (Psalm 17:8; Deuteronomy 32:10). So, as you navigate summer, remember: God is there. In your travels, your celebrations, your challenges – He is there, encouraging us to draw closer.

Pope Francis has described summer as an opportune time to deepen our connection with the Lord. He encourages us, especially the young, to spend this break wisely, through rest, prayer, service, and helping our families. He remarked, “it is in this way that one grows and prepares oneself to take on more demanding tasks” (Message to Youth, June 28, 2022). The slower rhythm of summer can indeed serve as a time of renewal.

Personally, I have a special fondness for the summer season as it paints a vibrant testament to God’s glory. While I’ve chosen not to take a vacation right now in order to be present for our parish and oversee our ongoing projects, I eagerly look forward to a time of recharging at the end of the summer, when I can refocus and spend some valuable time with my mother, my family and friends. I am especially excited about returning to Rome in early October to attend the Holy Father’s Consistory, a significant event of the Universal Church where the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, my former superior at the Apostolic Nunciature, will be elevated to the College of Cardinals to be a close advisor to the Pope. This trip promises a joyous reunion, reestablishing connections with old friends in the Eternal City, where I served the Church for fourteen years.

Despite the typical drop in church attendance during summer, it warms my heart to see many of you maintain a regular presence, reminding us that our faith does not take a vacation. I am edified by the faithfulness and consistency that many of you have shown in your sacrificial giving every week.  The summer months are always a bit challenging for our church as the bills continue to arrive and must be paid. I assure you of my dedication to manage our parish finances judiciously, reflecting the trust you have placed in me, my brother priests and our staff.

On a gentle note, I wish to remind everyone about the importance of appropriate attire during Mass. While the heat of summer might tempt us towards more casual attire, let’s remember that we are in the divine presence of the Lord when we come to church. It is fitting, therefore, to dress with due reverence, respect, and decorum for the liturgy. To this end, please also remember to remove your hats or caps upon entering the sacred space as a sign of respect for the Lord and your fellow parishioners.

To those unable to take a break or vacation due to age, health, work or financial constraints, my prayers are with you. I hope that you can still find peace, joy and relaxation in these summer months, enriched by the good company of loved ones and the creation of cherished memories.

As I entrust each one of you all to the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I wish you a serene and fruitful summer. My fellow priests and I eagerly anticipate your presence in church, resplendent in your Sunday best.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham