In Fr. Steve’s absence, I am very happy to be able to write this week’s bulletin letter! Now that I’ve been here for a little over a month, I feel that I’m getting acclimated to Wooster. Before I got to this parish, but after I was ordained, I had been going to different parishes each weekend. It felt strange to celebrate Mass in different parishes every weekend, without laying down roots. Being here with all of you has given a purpose and a foundation to my priesthood. A priest is called to lay down his life for concrete individuals- in my case, for you!
Many people, both within and outside of the parish, have asked me what I enjoy most about being a priest. Celebrating the Eucharist is one of the most powerful actions that I do as a priest. It is the heart of my day, the foundation of my life as a priest and as a disciple of Jesus. Standing in the person of Jesus at the font, in the confessional and at the bedside have been powerful experiences for me as well. Yet, I have also had powerful moments of priestly ministry outside of the sacraments. I’ve found that people approach me on the street and talk to me about their lives, their problems, and their search for God in very candid ways, just because they see me in my Roman collar. People seek me out and ask for my counsel, not because of me, but because they seek Christ. Being a priest is something that penetrates my whole being- I am everyone’s priest, and am always on call!
Speaking of the sacraments and priestly vocations, the Serra Club, who support and pray for priestly and religious vocations, will be recognizing our altar servers for the great ministry they perform with a special award at the 10 AM Mass on August 12. I’m very grateful for the help they provide in making our Masses such beautiful celebrations.
Many of you have asked me how my home parish, St. Mary in Hudson, has been able to produce so many vocations to the priesthood. Indeed, I am the sixth consecutive priestly ordination from my parish, and we currently have six men in the seminary. The first, and most important thing, I believe, was that parishioners were not afraid to encourage young men in whom they saw signs of a priestly vocation to consider the priesthood. The “nudges” I received from many folks at St. Mary’s helped me to have the courage to say “yes” to the call of God in my life.
If you know a young man here who is faithful, generous, prayerful and able to lead, ask him if he’s ever considered the priesthood. Maybe he has, and needs your affirmation to reassure him on his path. More on this in my next column-make it a great week!