Monday, September 29, 2008

Some Thoughts on my 25th Anniversary of Priesthood

May the Lord Give us his Peace.

I have wondered and worried about what I would say to you for a while now
I have also worried about if I would even be able to say what was on my heart

I need to warn that I have the blessing and burden of tears…
And I have no control over them.
Sometimes they come when I expect them
sometimes they don’t
Sometimes I dread them
sometimes they are incredible gift
And if they come I ask you to be patient with me.

After a lot of thought
The first thing I want to say as we celebrate
my 25 incredible years as a priest
is that I’m sorry
I’m sorry if I failed you
I’m sorry when I forget your name or your story

I’m sorry that I never seem to be able to find the right balance between
prayer and work in my life
I know that the greatest gift I can give you
Is the fruit of my relationship with God
I know I have work to do there
lots of work
and I want to do better for you and for me.

If I’ve ever hurt you by being under attentive or over attentive I’m sorry

I’m sorry if I’ve ever been angry with you…
Anger isn’t a regular part of my life thank God
but when it happens.
I can categorically say that I have never said anything of value
when I’ve spoken in anger…
Even when my message was right when spoken in anger the message has been lost

I need you and you need me.
I am your priest and we are companions on the road home

On this journey I own you the best that I can be
And I know that so often I just fall short.

Being a priest is all about being in relationship
With God and God’s people

And I know from experience
that no relationship
no marriage,
no relationship between a child and his/her parent,
no friendship
ever reaches its full potential without the words
I’m sorry being spoken
and being spoken regularly

So from the bottom of my heart
I apologize…
I’m sorry…
I want you to know that I want to do better

The second thing I want to share on this occasion
is that as I reflect on it
I’ve come to see God’s presence in my life

And though I didn’t always see it at the time
in retrospect God’s presence is often very clear to me…

God blessed me with a wonderful family
There were not huge struggles.
We went on vacations together
and enjoyed each other’s company
there were lots of Sunday rides to nowhere

I was no Saint…
Greg I’m sorry that 39 years ago I told you I was going to blow up the house with you in it.
Now a days that could get you in trouble

We went to Mass every Sunday
in 18 years we never missed
unless we were sick…
and then you couldn’t go out the rest of the day
so we were rarely sick on Sunday

Mom marched us all off to SS Peter and Paul’s all of us once a month for confession.
I met so many good priest over the years ….who listened to me and helped me along
I was blessed with a loving good holy family.
(God’s Gift God’s Presence)

My family is the first example of God’s providence in my life
The faith my family gave me prepared me for life….
No matter where
I am no matter what I’ve done
In my joys and in my sorrow… I can never be alone

In high school I heard a call to the priesthood….
Over and over again
There was no billboard….
Just a quiet voice that kept coming
I entered to leave
To get it out of my head

The Seminary I found community I found brotherhood
I had always had friends but this was different

We laughed together, we broke the rules together,
we even studied together.
Once there the brotherhood kept me there
The seminary prepared me to live with all kinds of friars…
and to try and love them.

When I was sent to study in Italy
Everyone including me thought it was a mistake…
They usually send the smart kids there
I was of the give me a c and set me free variety

I learned to that I could do without and still have a full life
I learned what it was like to be poor

That store front church in a very poor rough neighborhood was like a cathedral to me

The pastor sent me out to be a kind street preacher and door to door evangelizer…. Yikes…

Taught me humility prepared me for MOP here at Catholic

Taught High School
Put order in my life…
if you weren’t prepared those kids would eat you alive.
On task Order…. Never my forte in college…

I can remember going to bed at night and saying God please help me sleep quickly so that I can get back in the class room…

At John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce
With Fr. Mark
I had my first experience in youth ministry
Learned how to give retreats
I learned how to run a youth group
I was so happy

Then our Fr. General came and asked me to go back to Italy
Out of obedience I accepted a difficult assignment in Assisi
I only lasted a year….

But I think it was a way for God to pull me from my comfortable life in Flordia and ready me for Campus Ministry

Western Connecticut State
Was my School…. For campus ministry..
The students there were my teachers… and have become some of my dearest friends

I learned that Pizza does not make a youth ministry

At Western someone told ma a line that has stuck with me forever

Mother Theresa…
Always start with faith.
Faith leads to service always
Service leads to faith sometimes.

Here at Catholic
God helped me learn that I don’t have to do everything myself
God helped me to find wonderful people who share the vision
God help me learn to work collaboratively
The days of Father knows best are long gone…

I am so grateful for my time here at Catholic
I have been inspired here
I have been inspired by the prayer
I have been inspired by the students
The sincere confessions in the copy room of the Dufor Center
Wednesday Night adoration
The Gloria at the 9:00 PM Mass
An incredible group of people to work with.
Over and over again.
These and so much more have been epiphanies for me

Every place I was assigned was in some way a preparation for where I am now
And I am convinced that even now God is preparing me
For my future service in the Church

It’s kind of incredible that God is always present guiding and preparing me home

You know I have one of the little boxes that presistenly talks to you in your car
Go left God right
Turn around
Slow down 10 miles over the speed limit
Whenever I make a bad turn it guides me back on course

Sometimes I make a wrong turn on purpose and it recalculate
Sometimes I just miss the turn and it recalculates

God does the same thing in life he works with us
He takes into account all of our choices good and bad
And he always tries to guide us home.

I have seen God’s presence in my life over and over again
and when you see something over and over and over again.
Then you just come to trust it in
I’m coming to trust in God’s presence
I want to trust it more

When my parents brought me to the baptismal font
Its as if they placed in incredible river of
Grace and I began a journey of faith

A life of faith is like floating down a long river… sometimes you just relax and float
Other times the current gets strong and you move fast
Other times there are rocks and obstacles and you have to maneuver around them
Sometimes many times you are afraid.

Sometimes people just get out of the river
Sometimes they want to go else ware and live otherwise

But just like it is impossible to be in a river and not be wet
So it is impossible to go through life and not be surrounded
By God’s love and God’s divine providence.

By God’s grace I let go of some of my dreams and my fears
And I let him take me down that river

Following his plan for me
I became a friar 35 years ago
I became his priest 25 years ago

For me
There is nothing like being a priest
There is nothing like being invited into the very personal struggles of good people
There is nothing like having someone take the risk you show you their heart
There is nothing like holding a piece of bread and saying the words of institution
And knowing that that piece of bread will become the very body of Christ even if you are a mess yourself
Baptizing the next generation
When you prepare a person for death it is like taking
the hand of a sick person into and placing it in the very hand of God

There is nothing like being involved in so many of your lives
Picking you up when you fall down or get discouraged
Cheering you on when you succeed

And even with all of the struggles and trials… of priests these day
I am in awe and so very grateful for the incredible affirmation and respect I receive every day
Your smiles, your trust, your confidence mean so much to me.
Some of you came here to thank me for my 25 years a priest
In reality It is I who should thank you

So what am I supposed to say as we remember my anniversary of ordination ?

Let’s say I’m sorry more to each other.
Why not
What’s holding us back
Don’t be afraid
God deeper
Be vulnerable
And your relationships will never be the same.

God is present In our lives…
God is present in your lives..
I hope that you can become more and more aware of God’s presence in your lives
I hope that you can come to feel his presence in your lives
I hope that you can be consoled by it.
Strengthened by it.
I didn’t tell you my story so that you would know
I told it to you so that
And when you find yourself doubting and you will
You could Hold on to my experience
Hold on to my story my faith.
Let me carry you a while

Don’t let your fears hold you back

Don’t hold you back
Let the current of God’s river take you
Let God take you where you he needs you
Even if its scary…
Let go of your plan and find his
and float down the river of faith
Allow God to take you where you have to go
Some how I did
and I am forever grateful

As we celebrate the Gift that God has given me
It is not you who should be thanking me
It is I who should be thanking you
Thank you for letting me be your priest.


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