I Cannot Thank God Enough, Here is Why

07-15-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Robert Aliunzi

Dear Friends,

On July 20th, 1991, something very significant happened in my life – I was ordained a Catholic priest in my home parish in Uganda! In a few days’ time therefore, I will be celebrating the 32nd Anniversary of my priesthood. As I reflected on this milestone in my life, I realized that it was not by accident that I am celebrating this particular anniversary among you as your new pastor, or to some as your son and to others as your brother and friend. I am so grateful to God for each of you, whichever way you look at it.

During these last 32 years, God provided me with the greatest of privileges of serving in different roles and capacities both in Africa as well as now here in the United States. While in Africa, I served my first thirteen years of priesthood mostly in schools and academics. I taught in high school for several years and was also the Principal of a high school for four years before becoming a University lecturer for another four years prior to my coming to the United States of America.

However, it was here in the United States that I enjoyed my priesthood most because it was here that I plunged deeply into real pastoral work. It was here that I had the opportunity to baptize, confirm, celebrate weddings of many of my parishioners; mourn with those who lost their dear ones and anointed those who were sick and buried the dead. I truly felt the richness of my priesthood in rendering those services “in persona Christi”. Oh, how I love my priesthood!

At my last two parishes (St. James, Glendale and St. Andrew the Apostle, Chandler) where I was a pastor for a total of seventeen years, my primary focus has been on the Eucharist and that will not change even here. Some of this focus was expressed in the renovations of those Churches by bringing the tabernacle visibly at the center of the sanctuary like we have it here in our parish. Very closely connected to this, I am super excited that the Lord has now called me, to add another important focus, putting emphasis on devotion to our Mother Mary after whom our parish is named. I will, therefore, be encouraging many devotional activities to our Mother throughout the year. This weekend for instance, we are celebrating our parish Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. May our Mother bless and intercede for you all. We have prepared for this through our week-long novenas and reciting the rosary in our homes. Next year, we hope to make a bigger deal of this Feast both spiritually and socially.

I also see my assignment here among you as a culmination of my priestly experiences combined, because our parish is also blessed with a school. It is no secret that I love children and had a great time with our students this past year. None of the parishes I served at before, as pastor had schools. Now I have the opportunity to love, nurture and shepherd both our school children, teachers, and staff here at our school as well as you, my dear parishioners. What a double blessing – parish and school!

As I celebrate this great anniversary therefore, I would like to give thanks to God for bringing you and our school children into my life at this point of my priesthood and for giving you all to me to love, to cherish and to help bring to heaven. So, for the next coming years, please pray for me so that I may truly be your good shepherd and serve you without reserve.

God bless you all most abundantly. I love you.