November 3, 2013 A View from the Rectory Window

When I first arrived at our parish, I was invited to meet with a family to plan a funeral. I went to their house, but I wasn’t dressed in clerical attire. When I walked into the home, a woman with whom I had graduated from high school and who apparently remembered me, asked me what I was doing there. I told her I was a priest and that I was there to meet with the family. She answered that she didn’t think it was a time to be funny with a grieving family. It took another member of the family to convince her that I really was a priest and that they had asked me to come to their home.

This story reflects part of that mystery which is my serving as a priest (particularly in the parish of my youth).

Her question, “What are you doing here?” is a question I am confronted with every day. In this case, the embrace of a family who were living their own suffering, their yearning to experience God’s presence, particularly in time of need, and their yearning to find hope in God is just one example of what makes up the whole of my life.

This weekend, throughout our diocese, Bishop Sullivan has asked every priest to reflect with their parish communities on the gift of the Lord’s ministerial priesthood.

The story I shared with you above is a simple introduction into just how up-close and personal the life of a priest can be. I have found that the most intimate experiences of life and death, usually only shared with close family members, are also the privilege of a priest’s experience.

To be a priest is to be with people at their deathbeds, straddling time and eternity with the person who is dying and with their family. Even if someone has not practiced their faith in years, the priest is often privileged to be the final escort. I am at the weddings, standing as close to the bride and groom as they are to one another, as a sign of Christ in the Sacrament of Marriage. I hold your children at baptisms when they become the children of God. Knowing my own brokenness and the mercy of God in my life, I also await those opportunities to lift others up in the confessional. Before a surgery, when only your spouse might be holding your hand, I am there, anointing you. Yes, I have office hours to meet your appointments, but equally, I am there at 2a.m. when you call, because Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Today, many will point to the sins of priests, their weaknesses and their own need of redemption. How true. How equally true it is that as I go to CCD and visit our children, or listen and laugh with you outside after Mass, or run into you at ShopRite, that I am reminded that I am Father. That I am blessed. That I am grateful.

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What happens at a Pastoral Council meeting? Did you ever wonder? On Thursday, November 14, in the Church of the Resurrection extension, our Pastoral Council will meet from 7pm –8:30pm. All are invited. There will be a portion of the agenda set aside for any questions, suggestions, ideas that you might have. The Pastoral Council has determined to have four meetings set aside each year to follow this format. You can always go online at www.saintmaxkolbe.com/parish-council-minutes/ to review minutes from previous meetings.

May Saint Maximilian Kolbe pray for us.

Father Pete