Dear Father James: I know I speak for the majority of my fellow parishioners at Mother Cabrini Church when I say that we are extremely dismayed at the prospect of our beloved Franciscan priests leaving our area.

We have read yours and Father Justin's letter in this regard and that of our pastor, Father Martin, explaining the reasons for this possibility, and while we understand your dilemma, we want you to understand how very strongly we feel about the Franciscans here.

Unfortunately, we are a small, relatively poor community and there is a shortage of priests everywhere, and you have an agenda in view of the merger of both provinces, but Franciscan roots go back a long way here and we whom they have served so lovingly and faithfully for more than 100 years are firmly planted in the rich soil that they have tended for so long.

All of my family are products of Franciscan schooling and ministry, having been first parishioners of the former St. Stanislaus Church in Shamokin.

We benefitted from the excellent teaching provided by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph's as well. We love the Franciscans and do not want them to leave. Nothing would be the same without them - their warm, loving kindness and generosity of spirit are unmatched.

Father Martin's sermons in particular are the best I've ever heard. Father Adam's gentleness and piety are exemplary. We remember with great fondness those Franciscans who have served us in the past: Fathers Dennis, Paul, Jerry, Robert Grzybowski and Robert Plocennik, to name just a few.

During the stressful period encompassing the parish mergers here, it was primarily the Franciscans who made the transition go smoothly, calming fears and bringing all of us together under the guidance of Father Dennis.

In short, we hold the Franciscans firmly in our hearts and will not let them go if we can help it.

We hope you will decide to allow them to stay here, both at Mother Cabrini and Our Lady of Hope.

We can't imagine our churches without the Franciscans; their leaving would be a terrible blow to all of us.

Prayerfully,

Mary Ann Krieger

Parishioner