During the Season of Easter, a transition happens for the young church. They have heard the message of Jesus, they have experienced the Risen Lord in his various appearances to his disciples and believers, they reflect on their mission and begin to carry it out in the Way Jesus taught them. Easter is not about what happened back then, it is also about what happens now through us.
This weekend I am celebrating my Fortieth Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. Four La Salettes were ordained at our National Shrine in Ipswich MA by Bishop D’Arcy from the Archdiocese of Boston. All of us would do various ministries for the church and community. My classmate Tom Leclerc and I remain in active ministry today. Fr. Tom and I have been classmates since Kindergarten as we came from the same parish. We would all do ministries in various ways and various countries- the details are not important. The carrying on the ministry of Christ is what is and was always the essential point.
The power of God’s Spirit to enable me to do ministry for others has been the core of priesthood. “The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me…” was the focus of my ordination day and my life since. Life always begin and ends with God and in doing God’s work we are guided and enabled to bring the Good News to those who need to hear it and live it. But it is not just my role or all the ordained ministers of the church but it truly and essentially all of us living out our faith by obeying Christ’s commandment: “to love one another as he has loved us.”
Our vocation and faith life began at home. We learnt to pray as our parents taught us, we participated in the Eucharist as a family, we interacted with clergy and parishioners and classmates at Church and Catholic School. We were welcomed to become involved as priests and parishioners journeyed together in support of each other. That is the focus of the Acts of the Apostles and of the early Church and that of church life centuries later. We are all in this together and we need all to do our part to build the People of God.
Most of my ministry as priest has been as pastor of parishes or serving in leadership in my religious community or for a while as director of La Salette Laity. All of these were centered upon bringing out the best in others, showing the way to build the church and world in the Spirit of God. While not always completely successful, I have done my best to be inclusive and welcoming to all to utilize actively their talents and abilities. Most especially, the goal has been to experience the joy of helping others.
Our Lady of La Salette has always been central to my life. I grew up in a parish staffed by the Missionaries of La Salette. We prayed the Memorare to Our Lady every day at mass. The Spirit of welcome and approachability was central to my vocation decision. Over the years I have grown in my knowledge and appreciation of the charism of La Salette: Reconciliation. Bringing people closer to God and each other is the beginning. Recognizing how dependence upon God and his loving grace is the source of life and the power of ministry. Seeing and knowing Mary’s tearful compassion leads us to see the greatness of God’s passionate love for us – particularly embodied in Christ’s ministry, passion and death, and rising to new life.
The care and support of family, friends, religious community and those with whom I served have brought me to this day with joy and satisfaction. Remembering the special people, places and tender moments enrich this day and the gratitude I have to God, Mary and all of you for the blessings of service. I had hoped to share this day live with the community gathered but you are here through the internet now and in my mind and heart always. Thank you for all that you have given to me over these years and I pray that I will continue to minister to you and the church for years to come. You are in my love. See you soon when we reopen.