Sunday, Oct. 27 was the final Mass celebrated by Father Tom Doyle at Our Lady of Peace Parish before he retires. His homily struck me emotionally, and it was obvious to me that his words were sent from the Holy Spirit. Instead of drawing attention to himself and the remarkable service he has done for our community, he spoke about his priesthood based on the day's second reading, 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18. Verse 7 goes as this: "I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith." But to keep the faith is not enough. You must spread the faith, and live as Jesus did.
When Father Tom arrived at our parish in 2003, he began to cultivate a strong church community that continues to thrive today. His homily did not show acknowledgement to his own effort, but to that of the congregation. Charitable works done by the parish include donations to Nicaragua, participation in Bottles for Babies for Harvest House, collaboration with the Response to Love Center, and a yearly giving tree and adopt a family program, on top of other projects. This is what "keeping the faith" looks like. To love other human beings, to make sacrifices to benefit the greater good. This spirit of giving and humility has impacted countless people in Western New York, regardless of their identity.
As Father Tom said in his final homily, the only constant in life is change. But as we transition into receiving our new pastor, I have the sense that our spirit of generosity and compassion will stay. It gives a sense of hope to me, for the future of our parish. I would like to thank Father Tom for everything he has done for me, Our Lady of Peace Parish, and the community of Western New York. We will miss his incredible character, and even his weekly jokes. I pray that he, and everyone within the diocese, will continue to keep their faith.