I have to say I am leaving St. Michael with many happy stories in my heart from this parish community.
I am taking with me the best memories of all of you parishioners, members of the different ministries, pastoral council, finance council, building committee, and parish staff; bad memories are not going with me, because they were only a few and I don’t remember them now.
I take with me the best moments I had, the best celebration of which I was the celebrant, the best meetings I attended and decisions I made, the support, help and collaboration, I take those memories with me.
The "no I don’t support you," "I won’t help you," "I have no time," "I can’t," "I don’t want to," "I won’t accept you," all that has been absolved, forgiven and for that, it has already disappeared from my memory.
I take with me the hugs, the smiles, the loving and sincere looks, the open and generous hearts, your hearts of support and complements in my priestly ministry.
Here in St. Michael, I reached some of the best goals of my life, now I will have good stories to tell to many people, in my coming homilies that I will deliver in other towns, near or far from Gainesville, Ga.
In these five years, in each celebration, I felt the presence of our Lord, I saw the protection of our Lady in many circumstances, and I counted on the power of St. Michael in each step we took together. I felt such immense happiness to see the many, many people eating and sharing at the Thanksgivings feasts. That event has been one of the many miracles I can think of.
My heart was filled with joy in the processions with the Blessed Sacrament that we did in the streets of Gainesville, or around our church. What a great testimony of solidarity, justice and charity in our marches, prayers, conferences, and processions against the anti-immigrant laws. Be sure that I will continue praying and participating in any initiative that brings an end to this inhuman situation that is taking place in United States of America, a country of immigrants.
I saw many signs of conversion in the many confessions I heard during the penitential services. I felt the fire of the Holy Spirit. It drowned me inside in the Masses of evangelization celebrated on Ash Wednesdays in the outdoors, at the Mountain Center or in the place the Lord provided for us to celebrate.
The picnics for the St. Michael’s Feasts were beautiful and well planned by all of you. St. Michael, a parish of prayer, retreats, festivals, beautiful entertainment, gatherings; a place to come together! A parish to be one in one faith, one in the Lord Jesus Christ!
To St. Michael parish, I see a better future. There is no need to see the past, but we need to look at the positive history of the community. With your faith set in the Lord, and supporting the new pastor, Father Jaime Barona and to the vicars, Father Azar and Father Canales, you will be walking to a life of sainthood: the progress, the unity, planting seeds of faith and hope in the poor, the needy, and those searching for Christ.
Even though you will not see me soon, much of me will stay with you all here, I just take little. Now my picture can be moved to the right side of the wall; now I am history, history of love, blessings and happy memories.
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo
St. Michael pastor 2005-2010