It is with mixed emotion that I make this post.
It has been officially announced that our pastor, mentor and friend, Rev. Fr. Brian Stanley, has resigned from his charge of duty at St. Charles Borromeo so that he may begin a new call of duty: the United States Army.
I say mixed emotion because although we are overjoyed that Father Stanley is being given the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream, serving the Lord in the Armed Forces, most especially overseas -- we will miss him dearly.
Father wrote in his letter to the parish:
"Priesthood is a vocation, a calling from God, and requires priests to be ever-vigilant, always open to the voice of the Almighty; thus, every priest is to be obedient to God's call [I Samuel 3:10]. After much prayer, discernment and consultation with those who have both authority and competence in these matters, it became clear this past fall God was calling me to serve His people as a chaplain in the US Army, and I seek to be obedient to His call. The needs of the Army are the most pronounced among our Armed Forces, with only 92 priests to serve over 250,000 Catholics among over 700,000 soldiers. With God's help, I hope to become number 93, and to offer my meager abilities in spiritual support of the Army."
Fr. Brain Stanley was born in Watervliet, Michigan in 1962 to the parents of Arthur and Dixie Stanley. He grew up in Watervliet, attending St. Joseph parish. There he received the sacraments of Baptism (August 12, 1962), Holy Communion and Confirmation (by Bishop Paul Donavon). In 1984 he received a Bachelor of Arts, from the University of Notre Dame, and has also attended Jesuit School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley,CA; University of Portland, OR; and received his Masters of Divinity from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan in 1986 (Magna Cum Laude).
From 1987-1991, he was employed as a history teacher and religion instructor at Loyola Academy, Wilmette, IL. There he also coached cross-country and track.
In December of 1995 he was ordained deacon for the Diocese of Kalamazoo by the Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, Kevin Britt and assigned as temporary deacon to St. Patricks in White Lake, Michigan. On June 29, 1996 at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo, Brian Stanley was ordained into the holy priesthood by the Most Reverend Alfred Markiewicz, then Bishop of Kalamazoo.
Father Stanley's first parish assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Monica Church, in Kalamazoo. He remained until 1998, where he served as parochial vicar at St. Joseph Church, in Battle Creek.
In the summer of 1999, Father was appointed pastor of St. Charles Borromeo parish, in Coldwater and Our Lady of Fatima parish in Union City. Since this time, Fr. Stanley has been an active and energetic supporter of St. Charles Elementary school, and was instrumental in the founding of the Mardi Gras charity auction, which has raised nearly a half million dollars in nine years to help Catholic education at St. Charles parish. He has served as chaplain for the Michigan Correctional Facilities in Coldwater, chaplain to Knights of Columbus Council 2900 as well as diocesan chaplain for Kalamazoo. One of Father's best memories of St. Charles parish was his organization of relief efforts in cooperation with Michigan National Guard for Hurricane Katrina victims, in September 2005.
Father Stanley is also a proud Knight, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and was able to travel on pilgrimage with them this past Spring to the Holy Land, as well as a pilgrimage to Czestochowa, Southern Poland. Father attended World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany; accompanied a parish contingency to the Papal Mass of Holy Father Benedict XVI at Yankee Stadium in New York and attended the 2007 CIEL Colloquium in Rome, Italy.
As pastor, he orchestrated a capital campaign to renovate St. Charles Church, and his efforts are evident in the transcendent beauty and reverence of this interior today. Father served the needs of the large Mexican-American population by taking Spanish language classes at a local community college, and instituting an active and vibrant Hispanic ministry which incorporates many of the Mexican-American traditions throughout the Church year.
Father Stanley has had a profound impact on the spiritual growth and development of the parish community; always emphasizing the need for the Sacraments, especially Confession, and the respect for the Holy Eucharist through a liturgical dignity and orthodoxy that has become part of the fabric of this parish. He has, most importantly, challenged us as Catholic Christians to take up our cross and follow Christ, no matter what the repercussions. Father has had his share of dissenters- those who would rather not hear the Truth of the Church's teachings, and I know this has been a source of pain for him. But, through it all he has remained loyal to the Eucharist and the magisterium of the Holy Mother Church. This is, indeed, his greatest legacy to our parish.
Father will be serving as pastor-in-residence with his longtime friend (and former pastor of St. Charles) Fr. Robert Creagan, at St. Mary Church in Paw Paw, MI through the summer. Then in September, with God's grace, Father will begin active duty and report to Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina for three months of Basic Officer's Leadership. It is expected that, upon completion, he will be assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to serve in the 101st Airborne Division, and then on to Afghanistan or Iraq. Please pray for him, and for all soldiers.
On a more personal note. Father Stanley has made an enormous impact on my own spiritual growth and holy discernment. He has been extremely influential in my possible vocation to the priesthood. I consider it a gift to have gotten to know him over the past ten years. He has become a member of my family, and as such we have shared many family memories, from watching him at Sarah and Allie's "tea party" to Smokey's "funeral" in our backyard. "Uncle Henry," "Father Peaches" or simply "Fadda," you will always have a place in our home.
There is no more fitting way to end this post than to borrow Father's closing quote in his address to the parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo, which comes from the Apostle Paul:
"May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness. May he preserve you whole and entire, spirit, soul and body, irreproachable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls us is trustworthy, therefore he will do it."
(I Thessolonians 5:23-24)
(I Thessolonians 5:23-24)
Vaya con Dios, Padre.
-Nate (with help from Dad)