This week I read, and shared on Facebook, words from a homily on the priesthood by the Cardinal who would become Benedict XVI. (A short link to the article: https://tinyurl.com/w77v8bsn).
Some of the words echo back a theme that Fr. Kelly touched upon as he was leaving: that he wants you to know Jesus. In a priestly vocation the Lord touches
a man and invites him to intimacy that exceeds both imagination and expectations. To know Him as friend and Lord is at the heart of the invitation received and passed on. That encounter is not unique to us, but priests are also gifted with being an instrument to enkindle that fire of love in other souls!
The future pope added this personal story about the bond of friendship and grace:
When I cross Saint Peter’s Square, indeed, when I simply step out of the house, I encounter people from all countries, of all ages, from all walks of life. They recognize me as a bishop and are glad because a bishop is for them a successor of the apostles, a bearer of the mystery of the Church, a messenger of Jesus Christ. Again and again it is as though we are all old friends. No one is a stranger to the other. Through the faith, we are all acquainted. Through the Church, we all belong to each other. And what is most moving for me is the joy that is alive in all these encounters.
I know people (with pictures to prove it) who encountered him exactly as he speaks of walking across St. Peter’s Square at the same time each day. Their stories of his humility and warmth chatting with him stuck in my memory.
So, thank you Fr. Kelly, and all of the priests who have and will serve you and all believers. And on behalf of our priests, thank you for the warmth and kindness of your love for the priesthood. The Lord has brought us together and let our paths cross so that we might share in His love. But above all, thank the Lord who accomplishes all these good things in us.
All goodness is an unmerited gift from the Blessed Trinity!