Never a dull moment – my life as a diocesan priest
Early in my discernment of God’s calling me to priesthood, I sat down with my parents to discuss what I had been sensing in my life and through my prayer for a number of years. The discussion went well, and my parents were very supportive of my discernment and my thoughts of priesthood. At the same time, they were also honest with me – they knew that it would not always be an easy path to follow. They also knew me and my own personal qualities. My mother, who was blessed with a strong faith and penetrating insight, raised her only real question and concern those many years ago. She shared, “Dwight, the only thing I’m afraid of for you is that you will be bored. There’s so much in a priest’s life that is the same every day, and I don’t know how you will adjust to that. You’re the kind of person who likes variety and change. I just don’t want you to be bored or find life as a priest uninteresting.” I think Mom must have turned that into a prayer. In turn, I sense that God clearly heard her prayer and has answered it in so many ways over the years. Thanks, Mom!
Through the years I have learned that while I may wake up each day with my own agenda of things to do, usually, before lunchtime, God has laughed at me, shredded my agenda and sent me a completely new “to-do” list. Certainly there are some anchor points through the course of the day – personal prayer, the celebration of daily Mass, confessions scheduled three times a week, work on weekday and Sunday homilies, visiting with parishioners and parish staff and checking in with staff and students in our parish grade school. Beyond those regular parts of each day, there are so many other variables. Is someone hospitalized and in need of a visit? A trip to the hospital may well be in order. Has there been a death in the parish? A visit to the funeral home, meeting with a family to comfort and console them and planning and preparing the funeral liturgy will need to happen. Has someone stopped into the parish office with a question or needing the sacrament of reconciliation? Office work can wait if someone is in need. Don’t forget to make the time to schedule and prepare couples for marriage and families for baptism. Pastoral council, finance council, worship commission and education commission all require regular meetings and the preparation that is their due. There’s always my column for the weekly bulletin and the work of helping to guide FAITH magazine and FAITH Catholic, its parent company. Mix in time for rest, family and friends, and each day can be full from sunrise to sunset – and, as I have found through the years, that’s good for me. As a fellow parish priest regularly reminds me, we weren’t ordained to be monks. As diocesan priests, our lives and our ministry are meant to meet people where they are at in all the beauty and messiness of life. No two days are ever the same, and by and large they are never boring. Thanks, Mom!
On June 13, Bishop Boyea ordained Father Michael Cassar and Father John Vinton to serve as priests in the Diocese of Lansing. As they will soon discover, there is nothing quite like the first year of priesthood. It will be a year full of firsts and new experiences. I know they have been well prepared through their seminary studies and practical preparation for priesthood. I also pray they soon discover the joy and excitement that come from living the life of diocesan priesthood. May they never be bored and may they grow in their love for God and the people whom they serve. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.