Changes 2017: Farewell to Father Wichert

This morning, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Father Nicholas Wichert celebrated his last Mass at Holy Rosary as its thirteenth pastor. The Mass was celebrated for the fathers of our parish on the Saint Joseph altar.

I served at the Mass1, and I was able to make good on a promise I made to one of our young servers weeks ago that he could serve as well.

Father Wichert in the sacristy with the Altar Servers of his last Mass as Pastor of
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Tacoma
(Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul – 29 June 2017)

This morning’s Mass was pretty packed for a daily Mass. It being a Solemnity, we sang the Gloria. And to add a further bit of solemnity, we sang it in Latin. I was kind of surprised at how strong the singing was from the congregation.

Francine served as Lector, and two Sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross2 served as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Father gave a great homily on the two Saints and the discernment of vocation, including a recounting of the Quo Vadis story.

A blessing in the sacristy
Afterwards, Father was inundated by people wanting to say goodbye and ask for his blessing. Normally, we don’t let people into the priest’s sacristy, but there was no stopping the deluge.

The line of people coming to see him, to talk with him, stretched deep into the church. The farewells seemed to go on for longer than the Mass had.

There were folks from both Holy Rosary and Visitation parishes there, and even some folks from other Tacoma parishes, and nobody wanted him to go.

Almost two weeks ago on Corpus Christi after the procession, we had Father’s going-away party. It was a proper parish barbeque out behind the old Convent building that now serves as the parish offices.

Father Wichert’s Farewell Barbecue, Corpus Christi 2017

The place was crowded with well-wishers. There were tears, sure, but also plenty of laughter and fun. Father received many gifts, a pale reflection of the many gifts he’s given our parish in his short time here.

Holy Rosary will miss him.

It’s never easy to lose a pastor, but when you do, I firmly believe you should send him off properly. This, I hope, we did.

May the Lord continue to bless Father Wichert in his priesthood. Ad multos annos!

  1. Since we were out of town last weekend (more on that in another post), counting this Mass and the two Corpus Christi Masses, Father Wichert celebrated the last three Masses I served with him Ad Orientem.
  2. One of these was our Sacristan, Sister Hahn.