When leaving any job, it is important to give an excellent farewell speech; this is never more the case than when a priest is leaving his parish. Your time there will have involved a large amount of emotion and interaction with your parishioners and for some, your leaving will be a sad day. Your farewell speech needs to conclude your time there while confirming that parishioners' faith in God should be unwavering with regard to the new priest.
Remembering Your Time
Remembering key events from your time at the parish is important but so is remembering to not gloat: Reiterate why those events took place and discuss how they benefited the parish as a whole. It is essential to bow out while reminding your parishioners how much they valued you so that they can remember you and your work fondly while also having high expectations of your successor. You have done a lot for your parish, and this is the time to commemorate this.
Maintaining Their Faith
If you have been in your parish for some time and are choosing to move on or even to retire, your parishioners may, understandably, be upset. Some may even question their faith as to them, you are synonymous with their belief. However, because you're leaving it doesn't mean that they can no longer believe in God and attend church: it is important that you make this clear to them. Their faith must remain intact and as such, it is your duty to address this potential issue.
Why You're Leaving
Many of your parishioners may wonder why you're leaving the parish. If some of them are particularly dependent on you, they may feel deserted and so it is important that you address this issue directly. By informing them of your choice and your reasons for making such a choice, you are affirming their faith and restoring their confidence in their local church. Plus, most of them will be interested to know how what you're moving on to and will want to know that you're moving on to good things.
Introduce Your Successor
If you have already met your successor, make sure you introduce him to your parish. By seeing you give the new priest your seal of approval, your parish will be much more welcoming toward him. You should discuss his ideas, his past projects and parishes, and most importantly you should comfort your parishioners by confirming how their new priest only wants the best for them, the same as you did; their natural concern will be that he is totally different.