When did it happen? How did it happen? What have I accomplished? So much to say! So many beautiful experiences! So many graces! What is the perfect way to encapsulate it all? It is a time to count my blessings and be thankful.
First, my greatest and loudest thanks go to Almighty God! He has chosen me to be a priest for the sanctification of his people. Then He has brought me here to serve, love, learn, grow, and mature. That’s what I think this first year was about. I am privileged to serve at a parish where there are ample opportunities to experience it all—the beautiful, the best, the awesome, and the joy. In my first year at parish ministry, it is clear that there are no dull moments for a priest, especially if he makes himself available for people. It’s either he is doing something, or getting ready to do something for the people. I don’t think anyone is ordained for himself. So, that’s how it is supposed to be
Secondly, I am thankful to each of the parishioners for putting up with me for almost a year. They’ve been overly supportive, prayerfully uplifting, consistently kind and generous. I’ve the privilege of being a servant, a priest, a father, a man, a brother, and a friend journeying home with them. That’s what I have tried to be.
I’m thankful to my pastor. Every “baby” priest needs someone to feed him with soft food and drink, hold his hands, and lead him as he tries to make his first step in ministry. the pastor has been that someone. He has been there throughout this first year patiently helping me, answering my questions, and teaching me how to apply what I’ve learned at the seminary. Thank you. So many others have helped me to get to this point. My parents and close friends, strangers and fan who never cease praying for me. your prayers do more than you can think or imagine. I need them! Keep them coming. Only in heaven will you know fully the effects of what you have done.
Although I spent 8 years in seminary formation, how could have I known what ministry would be like? During this first year, I’ve seen a lot– people growing, heart transforming, spiritual wounds healed among the young and the aged. I’ve experienced many discovering what it means to be loved, forgiven, accepted, and free for the first time. I’ve seen people being convinced of the power of the gospel, feeling empowered by the sacraments, and sent forth to be and live their best. God can achieve all these without me; yet, he has chosen to do them through me. What a privileged!
Among the many blessings of this year, preaching has been among my favorites. There is something powerful about preaching the word of God. Of course, hearing confessions, teaching at the school, and enjoy a fun game with the students in the parking lot, or going bowling with friends have been some of the greatest blessings of this new year.
God has been good to me, and I am so very thankful that He has called me to this life. Know of my prayers for you, and thanks for praying for me.