by Rev. Paul Gros

Dear Family in Christ,

Peace be with you! It is a joy for me to write my first bulletin article for you in the “Pew Buddy”. And…it is such a joy for me to be back in ministry after taking a month  of “emotional sabbatical’. I can truly say it was something that I dearly needed and have seen the “Hand of God” working on so many levels. Though we may see Him working in the moment, often it is in retrospect that we see how He guided us “through the storm” the whole time. Thank you for all the prayers and support…I am forever indebted to the Lord for the love you showed me during this time! Also, I want to thank Fr. Jamin for all that he has done for St Margaret’s! It is such a gift to now be the  pastor a spirit-filled, loving parish.

I want to focus my letter on the second reading for this Sunday that comes from Roman 9:1-5. St. Paul writes, “My conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.” St. Paul was writing this out of “great sorrow” for his own people who refused to accept the reality that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah whom they had been waiting 1000’s of years for. However, when I read it, immediately I could not help but think of my dear brother in Christ, Fr. Mark Beard.

I know many of you knew Fr. Mark and were very close to him. We both were ordained together 14 years ago on May 30, 2009, and spent 4 years at Notre Dame Seminary taking the same classes together. Because he was always the ‘older’ guy of the bunch, we gave him the nickname “Dad”. Often we would go to dinner at restaurants near Notre Dame and convince our server that Fr. Mark was a our dad and that he was picking up the bill for us! LOL! Those were some good times. I have so many fond memories of my friend.

After finding out about his death, I went back and looked at some of our ordination pictures. If there is one word that I would describe Fr. Mark, it would be “magnanimous”. Magnanimous could literally mean “great of heart and mind” or “big-souled”. Fr. Mark truly manifested a “great, big heart” in his ability to lead and set vision for SO much that he accomplished in his relatively short time as a priest. I honestly thought he was a bit crazy when he was talking to me about idea of “Our Lady of Hope”… but it was his God-given magnanimity that led him to follow the Spirit in doing something so BIG! Now, not far from us, we have a beautiful retreat center, along with all the wonderful things he did for St. Helena parish. My brother will certainly be missed. I don’t think it has completely ‘sank in’ for me that he will not be present to us as we had known him. The one thing I do know is that heaven has been “stormed” with prayers for him at his passing. The one thing he would always say, “When I die, please pray for me!”

Fr. Mark, we are praying for you and for the consolation of your dear family.

Finally, on a lighter note, this past week, I was able to attend the 1st Vows ceremony of one of my long-time spiritual directees. Sr Noami Ruth, O.P., was just a high schooler when I met her at St. George about 6 years ago. She came to me around her sophomore year asking for spiritual direction because she thought God might be calling her to religious life. Well, fast forward 6 years later, I have had the honor to see her receive her 1st vows as a Nashville Dominican! If you are not familiar with the Nashville Dominicans, they are a group of sisters stationed in Nashville, TN, but have many convents around the country and even a few around the world. They are  habited, young sisters, who are rapidly increasing in vocations and are serving the Church through mostly running Catholic schools. I would love to have them one day be a part of our diocese, so keep that in your prayers! Please check out their website at The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation – Nashville Dominicans | Nashville Dominicans.

Have a wonderful week!

God Bless