Yesterday I presented the St. Jude the Apostle Award to over 70 recipients from most of the parishes and missions of our diocese. This annual award instituted some ten years ago is given to a person or couple who in the mind of their pastor, parish council or parish staff works tirelessly and quietly for their parishes throughout the years. I often say when I give these out, “If you wanted the award you probably should not have received it, but if you feel humbled and honored to receive something you never thought of, then this day and this medal is for you.” We award it during solemn evening prayer on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ our King who precisely as “king” came to serve and not to be served. Pilate never got it when he questioned Jesus about his “kingship” but all of those receiving the St. Jude award yesterday understand it perfectly. I list of this year’s recipients by parish and/or mission appears or soon will appear on the diocesan web-site. At the same time as the awards, there were 46 alleged “saints” on the field at Raymond James Stadium (all from New Orleans of all places) while I had 74 at St. Jude’s Cathedral. How sweet was that!
Saturday night I was fortunate enough to preside at the 50th Anniversary Closing Mass for Tampa’s St. Lawrence parish. An almost full church for Mass and over 400 for dinner in Higgins Hall afterward indicates the special place this parish occupies in the hearts and minds of its parishioners. It has had only two pastors in its fifty year history, Monsignor Laurence Higgins and for the past three years, Father Thomas Morgan, a graduate of St. Lawrence elementary. Both men were greeted by long and sustained applause for their pastoral zeal. The Sisters of St. Clare who originally staffed the elementary school were represented at the Mass and were also warmly acknowledged. A great parish with a great history closing its first five decades with the prayerful hope for many more great years, Congratulations to them.