As I celebrate the 6th year of my Ordination to the Priesthood, I’m just filled with a great sense of gratitude to God and the many people who have inspired me during the long years of seminary training and the ministry thereafter. I cannot help but look back into that very special moment when Bishop Kicanas laid his hands on me. I sobbed. The whole rite from the entrance procession (trembling while walking down the aisle) to the recessional was solemn and grace-filled. Ironically, what struck me most though was the presentation, the part when Fr. Miguel Mariano, Vocation Director and Fr. John Canary, Mundelein Seminary Rector and Representative informed the congregation that yours truly was worthy. It was puzzling as it sounded contrary to what other people said in years past, an unlikely choice by human standards. His excellency replied back, we rely on the grace of God. A huge relief on my part. Even if people started to call me father, still, I couldn’t believe obviously because of who I am (a sinner by default) and the one I represent, that is, Jesus Christ whose life and ministry, in such a short span of time, changed the course of human history.
In my 6 years of priesthood, the most essential and indispensable part is a disciplined prayer life: every single day, morning and evening. It is the fount of energy and strength from which everything flows and emerges. In fact, an hour of prayer a day keeps trouble away. An older priest once told me, your breviary is your wife. Don’t just leave her in the chapel. Talk to her as often as you can.
Respect for the Catholic Faith Tradition is a very important aspect. I’m deeply indebted to the countless dedicated men and women who gave their lives to Christ and his church, whose faith, hope and love have become an inspiration, a constant reminder and assurance of the goodness of the Lord. I’m fortunate that I didn’t lay the ground work in all the places assigned. It was clear that I was following a rich treasury of faithful Catholics, well documented in the annals of sacred history with Christ as the capstone. Speaking of Catholicism, what happens in the present always has its reference in the past.
Just when I was learning how to say the Mass, pronounce the words right and follow the rubrics, a new translation came out. I had to start over again. Nevermind. That’s alright. It was a teachable moment. Before I step into the aisle, on-time or not, I leave everything to God and pray that his spirit do all the talking.
As a pastor aware that the laws of the church aren’t about do’s and don’ts rather, saving souls, there’s nothing greater than loving my people, regardless of who they are. Amen.