Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.
A year ago this weekend we were blessed to witness Sr. Maria Kim make her perpetual profession with the Daughters of St. Paul. I remember with fondness the gang of Sisters that “invaded” our parish the week before and shared with us their great love of the Lord and their incredible teaching skills. For a pastor to see one of the young people from the parish consecrate her life to the Lord and the service of the Church, yes there is no greater joy.
This weekend a year later, we witness the ordination to the priesthood and the First Mass of Fr. Scott Sperry. Again what greater joy can a pastor have than seeing a young man lay down his life in service of Christ the High Priest? Truly there is no greater joy...Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every year in June we had someone dedicating his or her life to the service of the Gospel?
But in order for that to happen our parish has to be an incubator of vocations. Vocations rarely sprout in isolation. Most begin to germinate in the family and in the larger parish family. Both are the fertile soil in which a young person can begin to yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and be given the courage and support needed to accept the call to “come follow Me” as Jesus invites.
The first thing we need to do to make the parish or the family an incubator of vocations is to make sure we are each clear in our minds that the priesthood or religious life is a worthy lifestyle choice. Too often we define success for our children in terms of them finding a career that will enable them to have the best life possible and that includes a high level of economic security. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong, with that we too often look at the life of a religious vocation as somehow not the kind of success we think will allow our children to find happiness.
So is it worth taking time to consider what your definition of happiness is? If it is tied up in people, places and things alone then happiness will be conditioned upon the response of those people, places or things. Many of us do our darnedest to try and wrestle happiness out of these things. But if your definition of happiness is fulfilling your God-given purpose then happiness is mostly an inside job. Simply put achieving our purpose is the realization of happiness.
In my case I know that my own happiness is directly related to accepting my purpose to live as a priest, conforming my life to that of Jesus the High Priest. If I tie up my happiness in a bishop, or a parish or any ministerial assignment I will almost always come up short. Because those things can be sometimes good, sometimes not. Now this does not make the things of this world unappealing or to be rejected, after all we believe in the Incarnation. Rather it means that these things rather than being the source and center of meaning in my life can enhance my life, make it more comfortable and secure but happiness is not contingent on my having them. My definition of happiness may include these things but they are secondary to my true purpose.
This weekend is a good opportunity for us to reflect on what is really important for our lives? What is our ultimate concern? What is our center of gravity? If it is people, places and things then we will certainly always come up short. But if it is in Jesus Christ and His will for our lives, happiness will be a foregone conclusion.
May our brother Scott, who has accepted God's will for his life find true and lasting happiness in living out his life as a priest of Jesus Christ! May he be the best of stewards of the grace entrusted to him. Ad multos annos! And may many more men and women of our parish generously offer their lives in the service of the Gospel.
For us as a parish and for me as the pastor to have one of our own raised to the dignity of the priesthood, there is no greater joy!
Fr. John B.