Fr. Brian Phelps, Pastor of Our Sister Parishes!

Thanks to parishioners and staff for your love and support last week as it was announced that, beginning July 1, I will be pastor of five parishes in northeast Cincinnati. Fr. Brian Phelps, associate pastor of Incarnation from 2014-2018, will return to Incarnation as pastor, having been pastor of St. Francis since he left Incarnation. Welcome back Fr. Brian!!

In case you missed details in Stacy Stang’s announcement before Mass last week, I’d like to mention some “first steps” to building unity between St. Francis and Incarnation. The two parish staffs will be gathering for some social time this coming Thursday. As well, our pastoral councils are planning to gather to meet each other for a “mix and mingle.” RCIA leaders have met once and are meeting on an ongoing basis to collaborate and plan for future unity and even expansion of RCIA.

Thanks again to parishioners who take my challenge to attend one or two Masses at St. Francis  over the next two months. Their Mass times are now listed in our bulletin:  5:00 Vigil, 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.. Remember to put your Incarnation envelope in St. Francis offertory collection and if you give electronically, please put in a note of welcome. If asked, make sure you tell people you’re from Incarnation and that you are “reaching out with both hands” in welcome.

Use of Staff Expertise

Two weeks ago I mentioned the change/addition to Joan Macpherson’s job description, which better tapped into her gifts. Debbie Field, our Parish Engagement Coordinator, has also received new responsibilities with the same goal of maximizing staff experience. Readers will note that Debbie is a frequent contributor to the bulletin informing parishioners about engagement in parish life and Incarnation’s engagement in the community. She has done much to help us get some baselines on engagement metrics.

Thanks to her decades of experience in corporate human resources, Debbie will be helping our business manager, Sarah Seckt, bring our human resources records/files up to date and help to administer dimensions of human resources. Her new job title is Human Resource & Parish Engagement Administrator.  Speaking of Debbie, please read her bulletin contribution below on Vocations, even as Archdiocesan Seminarians were just among us to play basketball with Incarnation’s eighth graders last week!

Sincerely and with Love in Christ,

Fr. Pat

How do you know if you are being called?

When I was a child, my father was convinced I’d be a nun someday. All thought it was amusing at the time. And I surely never seriously considered it. But now, looking at it from the other end of the age spectrum, I suppose it was something I might have considered, had I had the encouragement of my parish priest and the Franciscan Sisters of my parish.

Vocations to religious life are not for everyone. Much thought and prayer and generous spiritual guidance from one’s family and their parish priest can/should be instrumental in such a life changing decision.

We know there is a severe shortage of priests in the United States. However, as we know from Beacons of Light, a need to ensure all parishes have a pastor has resulted in the need to “family” parishes. But it is not just a shortage of priests, but religious brothers and sisters as well. How would your family react if you told them you wanted to join the priesthood or become a nun? Some know if they have heard the calling, and if so, one shouldn’t be afraid to pursue their heart.

How can you know? And how can you know for sure the religious life is what Jesus wants for you? You likely can’t know for sure, but here are some things to think about in attempting to make that decision:

¨ Talk to those who are consecrated religious already. Hear their story. Googling it doesn’t work. You need to hear the personal story of one you trust. Perhaps Father Pat or Father Ignatius, or a visiting nun you see at mass on occasion could provide some insight as to why they chose religious life.

¨ National Vocations Week began November 8, but it should not just be limited to one week a year. We need religious as the face of Jesus in our lives. Thinking/Praying about vocations can/should be done all year.

¨ There is a joy in God’s calling you to a vocation, so let’s not let a shortage of priests be the primary reason. Consider it for the right reason.

¨ Yes we need more priests to be called, but it is not just priests, but also Catholics of all vocations. I am the person I am today because of Father Danielak, Sisters Joann, Jennifer, Paulette, and Margaret Mary. I’ll bet many of us could say the same thing.

¨ Adopt a seminarian. Choose one our diocese’s seminarians and pray for him by name, write him a note and invite him to Incarnation.

¨ Did you know that 90% of priests ordained in 2020 were encouraged to consider the priesthood by a priest, friend, or fellow parishioner? Something to remember.


We pray, O Lord, for more dedicated holy priests, deacons, and consecrated men and women. May those considering religious life be inspired by Jesus, supported by us, their parish family, and respond generously to God’s gift of vocation.