By Phillip Novotny
May God bless you abundantly, St Thomas More! Thank you for your warm welcome thus far. I am Phillip Novotny, a new seminarian for the Diocese of Jefferson City. I’m the man wearing the cassock in the sanctuary during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I’m from Omaha, NE, where I was a seminarian for five years; so I’m new to the area. Very new in fact. I’ve only lived in Columbia for the past few weeks. I was living at Our Lady of Lourdes with Fr. Clark, to whom I’m assigned for the summer. I’ll be here at the St. Thomas More Newman Center until I leave for the seminary in the spring semester, after the new year.
As you may have noticed, I’m not the same age as most of the men in formation for the priesthood. I was a carpenter for fifteen years before I entered the seminary. I have been very active in my 42 years with being a catechist and helping with youth groups, as a Boy Scout leader, parking lot security, forklift operator and substitute tutor for Regina Caeli, a home school hybrid organization. The spirit of the Lord has guided me into a lot of experience that I will bring with me into the priesthood.
The Lord has blessed me with the heart of a servant. I am so keenly aware of my identity as a beloved son of God when I am able to give myself to our blessed Lord, which comes most often as opportunities to serve His Church, His people. I so long to offer myself not only in service, but in person, as a priest of Jesus Christ, who is not only the one who offers the sacrifice but IS the one who is sacrificed: To be both priest and victim, as the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen tells us, “the priest is not his own.”
Both last week and this week, Jesus tells us that we are the seeds, that He is the sower. And He makes the distinction, even calls special attention to, how the Enemy works against Him and against us to try to take us away from Him and the end for which He created us. Please join me in praying fervently and very intentionally for our Priests, those who are in persona Christi capitis, in the person of Christ the Head. For they are the ones working so hard to sow and cultivate the seeds and the soil into which we are sown. In addition to being more intentional in our prayer, let us make more small sacrifices in our daily lives so that when we bring our offering to the altar–in and through the hands of the priest during the great sacrifice—our offering, our sacrifice of praise and our supplications, may be received and we may be given the grace to bear even more fruit and avoid the one who would defile the harvest.