Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
This season we are in the middle of one of the most spiritually powerful times that a parish can experience. How many sacraments have we received this year! I consider the shower of grace and blessings we have experienced as God has given us so many gifts. Nearly 200 children with Confirmation—that is a lot of Holy Spirit! About 60 adults and children who were fully initiated in the Church at the Easter Vigil. We watched throughout the season of Easter as over 200 children in our midst received Holy Communion for the first time, week after week we were reminded how the parish grows in grace.
We are constantly reminded that God doesn’t give sacraments for the sake of individuals alone (in fact, individualism is what is eroding the fabric of religious practice in the world today), but he gives the gifts of the sacraments that the whole Body of Christ is built up “to full stature,” as Saint Paul says, to fulfill the plan of God for his people. Each one of those sacraments was a gift to all of us, we are all touched by hundreds of gifts in these past weeks.
Often we see that the reception of a sacrament in a family touches all the members in a spiritual, beautiful way. Hearts are turned back to God, old differences are reconciled, a knowledge of the love of God comes under our roof and we are more deeply aware of his presence with us.
This year, one of our own parishioners is being ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. By the time you are reading this, Fr. Joe Farrell will be a priest of our diocese of Arlington. But not only him: others we have gotten to know in their summer assignments will also be ordained. We will have the privilege of celebrating and thanking God for the gift of priesthood also for Fr. Rich Miserendino and Fr. Kevin Dansereau, who spent summers with us.
We look to welcome back our parishioner Joseph Townsend who currently attends the Josephinum this summer, and will welcome another seminarian to our parish for this summer, Joseph Rampino, who has one more year at the North American College in Rome. Like many priests who have spent their last seminarian assignment with us, Joseph Rampino will be ordained a deacon in Rome this October.
I have a reason behind listing all of these priests and seminarians who have been with us over the years (let’s not forget also Fr. Jeb Donelan, Fr. David Dufresne, Fr. Steven Walker and Fr. Tony Killian): God has blessed us. And we grow in Christ, specifically in our common priesthood of the faithful, these sacraments are showered not only on the priests themselves, but their families and their communities. We don’t pray intentionally often enough that God will multiply these vocations in our midst: this weekend, this is our task. To ask God to allow the grace of this sacrament to touch every person in this parish.
Five years before I was ordained I was driving from Dallas to Lincoln, Nebraska for my brother’s ordination. I was angry that he might be throwing his life away, he had a very promising career as a physicist and I wasn’t so sure that he was making the right decision. I wasn’t a big fan of the Church, there had been too many confusing messages in the first two decades of my life. To whose Catholic Church were we supposed to belong, anyway?
But I arrived at the ordination, the liturgy began. We got to the point where my brother and his classmates prostrated (lay face-down on the floor), a sign of them giving their life to God, dying to themselves. We sang the litany of saints.They rose from the floor, new creations. I saw it all so clearly, tears came. He hadn’t given himself to the Church, he had finally given himself to God and the people who God placed in his life. To make a complicated story short, I returned to Dallas, did what was necessary to close my advertising design firm, had a big yard sale and reported to seminary by September of that same summer.
To all you young men and women who might still have persevered in reading this far: I challenge you to respond to the call you hear. I have not looked back. Sure, there have been times when I wondered if I did the right thing, or I have known great frustration and even difficulty. But I don’t know a married person who wouldn’t say the same thing. That is life. But this life is so great. I have a family of 15,000+ people and more opportunity than I ever might have imagined in the summer of 1989. And God is truly good.
Pray that even the tiniest piece of all this ordination goodness might touch your heart this week.Let God’s grace do its work, and open to him.
God bless you.