I hope this note finds you bearing well under the ongoing strain of social distancing & interpersonal isolation which goes with our attempting to flatten the curve of the dreaded Coronavirus that has turned our lives upside down lately.
I’m using some of the abundance of time that circumstance provides to ponder & remember with gratitude the past 4 decades of priestly life since my ordination in the Cathedral-Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul on May 17, 1980. When I lay prostrate on the cold marble floor of the sanctuary on that Saturday morning, little did I know of the great adventures that awaited me as my priesthood unfolded.
My favorite Dr. Seuss story, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”–is a good title for all the twists & turns my life has taken over these 40 years. I began as a parish priest in Chester & Drexel Hill in the ‘80’s, only to take a detour of sorts into religious community life with the Society of Mary/Marianists. As an active (as opposed to contemplative) monk for 25 years, I: directed parish youth ministry & later served as pastor in the Baltimore, MD area; was a teacher & chaplain in Hollywood, FL & Cincinnati, OH; engaged in graduate & doctoral studies in Toronto, ON, Miami Gardens, FL, & San Antonio, TX; directed youth & young adult retreats in Sparks, MD; & directed university campus ministry in San Antonio.
My decision to withdraw from religious life & return to the Philly area where I began my priesthood was prompted by the shifting demographics of the Order, as well as a deep desire for some quality time with my elderly father—which time was truly a great blessing that I treasure. It feels like I’ve kind of come full circle as I am again ministering in parishes—first in Doylestown & now, here in Trooper.
Like the fictional character George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” I feel like the richest man in town with all the friends I’ve made over these years: touching the lives of tens of thousands of good people & being touched in return by them. God’s mercy & providential love has guided & nourished, challenged & forgiven me every step of the way. Please pray with me in thanksgiving for these 40 years during our celebration of the Holy Mass this Sunday. “God is good all the time, all the time God is good!”