Dear OSJ Family,

As I pen my final “From the Pastor” passage, I simply want to say that it has been a blessing and a privilege to serve with and for you these past two years at OSJ. I rightly believe that the lives of many who seek a spiritual home at OSJ have been well served by this parish community. Truly, it amazes me how much is done for the good of souls from this “little church in the alley.” I believe that this is a genuine testament to the work of God’s Holy Spirit—alive and active—at Old Saint Joseph’s for the past 284 years! Here I have learned that it is the people of God, this diverse gathering of people of various languages, age groups, ethnicities, idealogies, and ways of life, working and praying together, that provides the spiritual and moral support for Philadelphia’s oldest parish. Thank you for helping us to continue the Catholic and Jesuit mission that has endured and flourished at Willings Alley since 1733.

Indeed with your support, involvement, activism, prayers, and contributions, you make it possible for us, as a parish community, to preach the Gospel, teach our youth, gather our faithful, feed the hungry, promote social justice, and celebrate the Sacraments with dignity and beauty. These are all crucial elements of our common life of faith at Old Saint Joseph’s. Without a doubt, I have learned much in my first mission as a pastor, and I am certain that I can never adequately thank the parish for all of the valuable lessons and graces gained here. There is the old adage, “people come into our lives for a reason … by bringing us something we must learn. We are led to those who help us to grow and, in return we, hopefully, help them to grow.”  For my part, this has never been truer. Thank you.

As I assume my new ministry as the Provincial Assistant for Vocations for the East Coast Jesuits, and leave my beloved home-town of Philadelphia, I respectfully ask for your continued prayers for me and for my service to the Church and to the Society of Jesus. I especially ask for your prayers for the young men that the Lord will send to us to discern a beautiful vocation as a priest or brother in the Society of Jesus.

Please be assured of my continued gratitude and prayers for you and your loved ones.  I offer you this beautiful blessing of Saint Teresa of Avila as we part ways:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Gratefully in the Lord,

Fr. Phil Florio, SJ