It is with a heavy heart that I compose this letter announcing my acceptance to be reassigned to a new region in the Diocese of Gaylord. Two weeks ago late on a Monday evening, Bishop Raica contacted me with his intention to reassign me to the Catholic Communities of L'Arbre Croche, based in Harbor Springs. The cluster assignment includes four area parishes. There ae two retired priests who are helping out. While the timing could never be spectacular after 3 1/2 years here at St. Joseph, I accept it as God’s will for me and for the parish. I’ve always accepted the Bishop’s will in these matters, since I first kissed the floor of the Cathedral 22 years ago on my ordination. It hasn’t been easy; however with changes comes opportunities of growth and maturity. While accepting the Bishop’s will, by faith I believe it is the will of God acting through him. Sacred Scripture reminds us that we should not “fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)
I imagine that this announcement of my reassignment could be sad, shocking or disturbing. My decision to accept Bishop’s offer as I mentioned above is only after years of discernment. I would request that no letters on my behalf be sent to the Bishop’s office. With all due respect, please make Bishop Raica feel welcome in May when he visits our parish to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation and First Eucharist with our young people. My reassignment will take place at the end of June so we have time to tie up any loose ends and make some final adjustments. I cannot announce who has been assigned to St. Joseph; however, I will be announcing them at all the Masses this weekend.
It has been an absolute pleasure to have served here at St. Joseph with such distinguished people. I came to you over three years ago in need of healing and recuperation. My previous assignment had difficult challenges. While I weathered them, they still came with a cost to my health and my spirit. Thank you, St. Joseph community, for opening your warm arms, offering gentle smiles and precious friendship. It has meant the world to me. I’ve often shared openly that you have been the most social parish I have ever encountered to this point in my priesthood. It was exactly what the spiritual doctor could have recommended for a heart that was wounded. I will always be in debt to “the Pearl of the Peninsula!” 
In the Peace of Christ,

Father James M. Bearss

St. Joseph Catholic Church
12675 Center Road
Traverse City MI 49686