PALM BAY | Parishioners celebrating Mass at Our Lady of Grace, Palm Bay exploded in applause when Bishop John Noonan installed Father Vilaire Philius as their new pastor, May 28, 2023. As many donned red for Pentecost Sunday, the diverse community welcomed the Holy Spirit with music – some sung by the Haitian choir in their native language. Clergy and participants stood and clapped to the rhythm of the music in effervescent jubilation.
In song and prayer, it was clear the Spirit was moving through those present as Bishop John Noonan blessed Father Philius and signed the documents formalizing his installation.
Asking the new pastor what this new designation meant to him, he noted, “God has called me to be a priest and pastor of this amazing community. I desire to devote my life to save souls, to share my gifts to the best of my ability, to feed them with knowledge, wisdom and most of all to love them with my whole heart. A pastor’s heart is God’s gift to his people.”
Conceding it is a time where more people are living in despair because of their lack of faith, he hopes the people of Our lady of Grace grow in their relationship with Christ, fostering and cultivating “unity among all ethnic communities thereby living out our call as Disciples of Christ.”
In the second year of the Eucharistic Revival, he prays his community remains vibrant, continuing to worship God and be transformed by the body and blood of Jesus always. He hopes this will strengthen and empower them “to understand His true presence in order to build a unified Church family.”
Receiving every person who came to congratulate him after Mass, exuding his joy for their presence, and often breaking out in boisterous laughter, he told the Florida Catholic, “I love to serve the people of God with joy. Whatever He says, I say ‘Yes.’ I never imagined I would be here, but the Lord is so good to me.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, June 1, 2023