By Fr. Rich, O.P.
If you recall, in August, the Dominican friars joined their brothers from around our province for a few days of prayer, community, and conversations about “the future” of our ministries and province. It was a fruitful time; I had the opportunity to visit with brothers I had not seen in some time, including Fr. Dan. We celebrated the Feast of St. Dominic as a community and Fr. Dan’s birthday. The outcome of our conversations will be the source of discussion for our Provincial Council in the near future.
Next week, the Dominican friars will have an opportunity to visit with their diocesan brothers as we gather down at the lake for a week of prayer, community, and conversations about our diocese. It is an annual event that allows priests who have not had the occasion to visit with their brothers and friends to catch up.
Prayer, community, and conversations about those things that most concern us — how best to serve the people that we have been called to engage in our ministries, — it is an experience that builds and grounds us. The men who have been called into the service of the Church are a diverse group, even at the diocesan level; we come from many places and times, with various histories and formation experiences.
Whether religious or diocesan, we have much in common. We all vow obedience, a submission of our will to the direction of the Holy Spirit, honored in our bishop or our provincial. We commit to “go where we are sent” in order to best serve the People of God. It is a challenge for some, an invitation for some, but we go willing to meet the challenge, to accept the invitation.
We have committed our talents and lives to service of the Gospel; we have done so willingly, not always knowing where we are headed or what we will be asked to do. Sometimes we have a plan and goals that we want to accomplish as we serve God; God doesn’t always agree with our plans.
By and large, we are men of integrity. By and large we are men committed to our vows, committed to serving the People of God. To say that we are “works in progress” might seem an understatement, yet we are.
I can tell you that I personally love what I am doing. I am grateful daily for the gift of each day and the opportunities they bring to serve God and God’s People. I can also tell you that I am very, very much a work in progress. I learn daily, make mistakes daily, and have been known to ask the question, “What am I doing here?”
Yet I also believe that God has called me to this time and place. I believe that each of my brother priests have been called to this time and this place, always in service to the Gospel, always in service to the Triune God.
I began this column, not really knowing where it would lead, as is often the case with me when I engage the Holy Spirit. So, I’ll close with this:
For the privilege of journeying with you as we live out the Gospel in our lives!
For the joy of celebrating the Eucharist with you and sharing in the banquet!
For the gift of sharing your lives with me: baptisms, weddings, First Communions, Confirmation.
For the privilege of walking with those who’ve lost a loved one, sharing the grief and loss and the hope and joy.
Thank you for allowing me to be your priest!