We ask you to take a few minutes to read an important letter with news about the upcoming year from our soon-to-be-pastor, Fr. Keith Wolfe. In addition, we invite you to read the message from Bishop Hicks as communicated by the Vicar for Clergy, Fr. John Balluff.

A letter from Father Keith wolfe

June 8th, 2022

Dear St. James Parishioners,

Jesus taught his disciples about the care God has for each of us, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Lk 12:7). God loves us in a particular and individual way. He invites us to trust in Him.

I am looking forward to meeting all of you when I return to the area in August. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the letter that follows below from Fr. John Balluff, the Episcopal Vicar of Clergy, about the pastoral care of our parish. In your personal charity, please read both his letter and mine with an open mind, prayerful heart, and supportive disposition. Thank you in advance for your support, patience, and understanding. 

When my appointment as pastor was announced in March, my military ministry as a Chaplain in the United States Navy Reserves was included with the biographical information.  Also, the Diocese of Joliet provided advanced notice of a pending deployment which could have begun either this October or next March. Bishop Hicks, Fr. Balluff, and the Priest Personnel Board were aware and supportive of this possibility from the very beginning of their discernment about both my future assignment and the needs of Saint James the Apostle Parish. 

Only very recently, I was notified by the Navy that they are mobilizing me for deployment earlier. Instead of next March in Djibouti, they are mobilizing me this October to Qatar. Obedience is an essential virtue in the life of a priest, especially when the Bishop transfers a priest to a new parish or, as a priest-chaplain, the Navy changes the dates of orders. As people of faith, we believe in the inspiration and intentionality of Divine Providence. God directs our lives with a perfection more than we could imagine on our own. As above, we are called to trust in Him. 

Canonically, my appointment as your pastor begins Friday, July 1. This term is for six years. As you know, Fr. David has generously agreed to remain until my arrival on Tuesday, August 9. Please remember to pray for him in his retirement. My deployment begins on Friday, October 21. I will return to our parish at the end of August 2023. 

The advantage of an earlier deployment happening now is that the Navy will not be able to recall me for at least five years later. In the meantime, beginning sometime this August, Bishop Hicks has appointed Fr. Tom Cargo as the parochial administrator. He is a recently retired pastor with many years of experience in ministry, school administration, and pastoral care. We are grateful for his generosity. 

Let me be clear, I will be your pastor. Parish priesthood is my primary vocation and responsibility. This unambiguous fact allows us to embrace the uniqueness of these next few months with a confidence in Divine Providence. Many things have come together in these last few weeks which demonstrate the care God has for us in times of uncertainty. As believers, we are resilient, adaptable, and faithful! 

Fr. Tom and I will be working together with the Staff in order to seamlessly integrate into the parish. I will be present at most of the weekend Masses. During the autumn, his presence will allow time for prearranged obligations and the mandatory pre-deployment workup. Additionally, he will be present during my canonically required retreat. Unfortunately, due to the demanding schedule at my previous parish, I have not been able to take vacation or retreat for three years! 

The benefit of modern technology will allow us to remain in communion during my deployment. For example, I will continue to write bulletin articles. I will record a monthly homily to be played at all the Masses on one Sunday a month. Our parish will be designated a Blue Star Organization. And, I will upload messages to our YouTube channel on occasions like First Communion, Confirmation, graduation, Christmas, Easter, etc. 

In the meantime, please look for more information in future bulletins and on our parish website. As we say in the Navy, “comms are open,” do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, or respectful concerns. Once again, thank you in advance for your support, patience, and understanding. I will continue to pray for you as you may pray for me. 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Keith G. Wolfe


A message from bishop hicks, communicated by father john balluff, vicar for clergy

June 8th, 2022

Dear Parishioners of St. James the Apostle,

I am writing on behalf of Bishop Hicks whom I serve as Vicar for Clergy. I chair the Personnel Board and manage the parish assignments of our priests. The Bishop is grateful for the many years of service of Fr. Hankus and congratulates him on his retirement.

The Board recommended to Bishop Hicks and he agreed to assign Fr. Keith Wolfe as pastor of St. James the Apostle. We are certain it will be a good fit and that you will find his youth and energy a gift to your parish. We knew at the time that it would be a bit of a late start because of military chaplaincy training he is obligated to attend, he will move to St. James on August 9th. Since that assignment was made by the bishop the Navy has decided to deploy Lieutenant Wolfe starting in October of this year through the end of August 2023. We were notified of this a couple weeks ago.

Fr. Thomas Cargo, one of our recently retired priests has agreed to administer the parish while Fr. Wolfe is being deployed as a military chaplain. He has served a parish with a school before and will reside at the rectory. 

When a young priest and his bishop make the commitment to serve in the reserves, we know it will involve the possibility of a deployment. This first deployment is basically determined by the military alone. The blessing of having this at the beginning of his service as your pastor is that military policy will give us much more control over the duration and timing of any future deployments.

Sometimes you have to wait for good things. I say this both to Fr. Keith and to you. The year will go by quickly and I am hoping Fr. Keith can find some creative ways to share his experience of serving our men and women in uniform with St. James the Apostle Parish.

Sincerely,

Father John Balluff

Vicar for Clergy