These are all good questions. God has blessed my ministry abundantly through the years. However, uprooting my family multiple times has required sacrifices from each member of my family. This is not something I take for granted. When Margaret and I were first married we had many discussions about how we would serve. Prior to having children, we even discussed being missionaries in a foreign country. Thus, there has always been an openness to the movement of God in our lives. I will admit that I never anticipated where the journey would lead. We didn't go to a foreign country, but we did go to Wyoming. (That is in the U.S. Right?)
As I look back in hindsight, the view is amazing. We initially went from Missouri to Colorado where I had my first position in ministry. This deacon rookie learned much in those early years in regard to the practical components of being in ministry. After three years we went back to the Show Me State where I taught Theology at Valle Catholic High School in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. I had no idea that this endeavor into the field of education would be the start of building a foundation which would lead me to being a principal and then superintendent. It still boggles my mind to think that I held the position of Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Cheyenne for these last eight years in addition to being the Director of Pastoral Ministries. Wow! The discernment process of accepting the position as a Theology teacher back in 2003 was the starting point of something much bigger than I could have ever imagined.
The questions about my new adventure are reasonable, but I am unable to give a clear answer as to what I am expecting. All I know is that when I walked onto the campus of St. Francis by the Sea a little over two months ago I felt a deep sense of peace. I have been hired to be the Director of Religious Education for the parish. However, I am waiting with great expectations and prayer to see the powerful ways God will move in my life as I embark on this new adventure. There is something in store for my ministry that is beyond my current understanding. I have no doubt that my family will be abundantly blessed as well. We are walking by faith. All of the signs in the photo above give specific directions. My life is not always that clear cut. Waiting upon the Lord sometimes is an exercise in patience, but the end result is always amazing. I have prayed about this decision, and God has given me peace. I now walk in faith and trust that I am following God's will.
To the parishioners of St. Francis by the Sea, I look forward to joining you exactly one week from today. Fr. Mike has blessed me with the privilege of preaching at all of the weekend Masses on June 30 and July 1. My preaching style is well-known throughout the state of Wyoming, but since it will be new to all of you I will give you one clue. My homiletics instructor in diaconate formation said, "Have a stimulating beginning and a powerful ending, and keep the two close together." I have generally followed that advice and it has served me well.
In all seriousness, I will do my best to faithfully proclaim the Good News of Salvation. Archbishop Paul Etienne has heard me preach numerous times. He graciously wrote the foreword for my book which was published about eight months ago. In that foreword Archbishop Etienne said:
"I have known Deacon Vernon for seven years and have had the good pleasure of having him as a coworker in the Diocese of Cheyenne as the Director of Pastoral Ministries. It is a wonder he gets any of his own work done given the volume of parishes and organizations making requests of his time and energy as a retreat director, speaker and presenter for days of recollection. He is a gifted preacher, storyteller, and a highly enthusiastic , faith-filled disciple of the Lord."
~The Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, DD, STL
Archbishop of Anchorage
(Former Bishop of Cheyenne)
By God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit I will bring that enthusiasm and zeal to St. Francis by the Sea. To my new parish family on Hilton Head Island, I look forward to seeing all of you next weekend.