During my 44 years as a priest, I have been blessed more than I could have ever imagined. My love for Jesus and for you, God’s people, has grown deeper by the day. As I retire as Rector of Christ Cathedral, I am not retiring from being a priest. My life now will be a movement, as author Dr. Connie Zweig would put it, from role to soul. It is a shift in focus from my external roles and responsibilities as a priest, to an interior focus on the soul. It is a movement from my primary focus on the requirements of my roles to accountability to God’s Spirit within. So, the question changes from what do I have to do because of my external roles, to what does God ask of me from within. It is from this inner place that I will continue to serve as a priest in whatever ways God leads me. This hopefully will include helping out here and other places, giving retreats and renewals, writing, playing music, enjoying time with family and friends, and, of course, a little rest. I will also continue helping Bishop Vann with the completion of the St. Callistus Chapel and Crypts in the cathedral’s lower level.
Over the past ten years, our beloved St. Callistus Church has blossomed into Christ Cathedral. We are the founding community of what is now the mother church of the diocese. It has been a journey of courage, patience and mostly a profound trust that the Holy Spirit is with us through it all. To Bishop Tod Brown who first entrusted me with the title of Episcopal Vicar and Rector, thank you for your trust in me and your leadership in acquiring the cathedral campus. Bishop Kevin Vann, please know the privilege it has been to serve with you in the development of Christ Cathedral and how much I value your support and presence in my life. I am profoundly grateful to Fr. Tuyen Nguyen who shepherded the parish through the move here. It has been a joy to serve with Fr. Christopher Pham and Fr. Mario Juarez who are continuing their priestly ministry in new assignments. I have been blessed by the ministry of Fr. Quyen Truong who will continue at Christ Cathedral. Please welcome Fr. Juan Navarro who is returning to the parish as a Parochial Vicar. I know you will embrace your new rector, Fr. Bao Thai, with the same love and support that you have given to me.
At my first Mass of Thanksgiving the day after my ordination, my great uncle, Fr. Abbot Robert Dodson, said, “There is a saying that goes, ‘like pastor, like flock.’” Then he said to me, “Christopher, I think the saying should really be, ‘like flock, like pastor.’” These many years later I can tell you, he was so right. You have loved me into being a priest, who begins every day saying thank you and who sees each day as a new opportunity to love. What else could a priest ask for? Like flock like pastor. How precious you are!
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector