This past week I was fortunate to make it to a few more places for pastoral visits. Thursday evening I had dinner with seven of our priests in Northern Deanery. Thanks to Fr. Cody Ross for hosting us at Sacred Heart in Bellingham. I believe that was the sixth such dinner in recent months. Building fraternity among our priests is so important, and I’m really enjoying these evenings of prayer and discussion.

While in the area, I also took the time to drive north to Birch Bay to visit some people there and see more of this beautiful Archdiocese. If you are familiar with the map, you know that area is getting very near the Canadian border and the border crossing at Blaine.

Saturday I drove to Grays Harbor County to celebrate Masses in three parishes. After Mass at Our Lady of Good Help in Hoquiam, the three priests who serve this large cluster of parishes also enjoyed some time together over a nice evening meal. A quick check of the website reveals there are seven parishes in this cluster, being served by three priests, Fr. Patrick Freitag, Fr. Showreelu Simham and Fr. Jaya Kumar Embeti. I am so grateful for their generosity of priestly service, and from conversations this weekend, I know the people are as well!

While I am able to visit with parishioners before and after Masses, I learn a bit about the history of each place, as well as some of the businesses that support the local economy. This part of the state is logging territory and there are still some active mills in the area. Of course, being so close to the Pacific coast, it is a favorite tourism spot, as well as a popular place for fishing. One person I met operates a bird watching and deep sea fishing business, and I sure hope to make a return visit for that purpose soon!

While hard to believe, this Thursday representatives from around the Archdiocese of Seattle will gather at St. James Cathedral for this year’s Chrism Mass. This will be my third such celebration here, and hopefully, under far better conditions with the COVID pandemic beginning to reside, we will have a packed church for one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year.

As always, please be assured of my prayers for all of you. My particular prayer in these days is that the Lenten season is opening all of our hearts to the power of Christ Jesus, which leads to greater conversion of life and growth in holiness. Our Second Reading this Sunday states clearly our goal, and we have St. Paul to guide us on this journey.

“I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:8-14)