Today, in every parish in our country we are celebrating Priesthood Sunday. It’s a day to celebrate all the priests that have made an impact on our lives. A day to say “thank you” to these men who each and everyday give themselves completely to God and his church. Now I’m not saying this because I’m a priest myself (even though it does help to understand what it is to be a priest in today’s society). I’m speaking on my own experience of the priests that were present to my family and I who have been present on different occasions in our lives. It could have been those joyous occasions of celebrating a baptism or marriage. Could have been those occasions that are as difficult as the priest gave the last rites to a dying family member or blessed their casket as it was brought into the church.
What is it to be a priest? A priest is to be a man that is in love with God. A man that spends his time in prayer He is a man that is a “father” to those he ministers to. He gives them consolation and peace. He also challenges them to love God and neighbor. He gives them a hug in times of sorrow and joy. He is there to welcome the new members of the church community by the sacrament of baptism. He hears their confessions and gives them the peace of being forgiven. He celebrates the Eucharistic feast in which his “children” are fed forever. He brings man and woman together in front of God and his church to create the bond that will bring them together until “death do us part.” He anoints the sick and comforts them in their hour of need. This is the priest that represents not his own priesthood but he shares the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. In everything that he does it is to bring the love of Christ to all those that he encounters.
On May 12, 2007, I celebrated my “First Mass”, at my home parish. Of course this was an overwhelming experience. The day before I was ordained a priest and now here I was returning as a priest to the place where I was baptized, received First Communion and Confirmation. The place where I would gather with my family every week to celebrate Mass. In this place where I met friends and enjoyed many festive moments at parish events. Here I was coming back to preside for the first time at my “First Mass”. As communion was finished being distributed I returned to my chair and the choir began a hymn that was personally composed for this grand event. I would like to share with you the verses of the song. “Thank you, my Lord for your peace and love. For all that you have done for me: for the great happiness of being a priest today; the vocation that you have given me. Each day that passes I ask for strength from your grace. For your love, your kindness; that you have always given me strength to follow my journey in walking on your way. On this my journey searching your way, I sense your love. Always stay by my side! Many times do I say ‘thank you’. Thank you my Lord!”
On this Year for the Priest and Priesthood Sunday I truly give God thanks for all that he has given me. I thank him for this beautiful vocation to the Priesthood that even in my two and half years I have seen him working great things in my life. I also thank you my dear brothers and sisters. You are my support on this journey. You have truly welcomed me with open arms and for this I’m ever grateful. Let us thank God for the beauty of the Priesthood and let us encourage our young men to pursue a life of peace and joy in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.