Marking 30 Years of Priesthood: If I Knew Then What I Know Now!

On his 30th anniversary of priesthood ordination, Fr. Gordon MacRae writes poignantly of a priesthood in freedom, in prison, and in sacrifice.

Well, I’m back – even though I’ve never left – and my prison cell looks less cluttered after having disposed of reams of paper or thought I no longer needed. I still can’t find anything, however, and even though I’ve missed writing over the last month, I have also appreciated the break. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Father George David Byers, Monsignor MichaelFather James Valladares, and David F. Pierre, all of whom stepped in with their prodigious writing skills to rescue you from my reruns in the month of May. I also thank Suzanne, TSW’s very accomplished publisher and editor, who got no break at all.

They deserve a standing ovation for the many ways they place their gifts and skills in service of the Church, the truth, and justice. I can only paraphrase Jack Nicholson from the film, “As Good as it Gets” – They make me want to be a better priest!

And speaking of which, this week on June 5/6, 2012, I mark my 30th Anniversary of priesthood ordination and First  Mass. I have described the day I was ordained a number of times on These Stone Walls, most notably in two posts, “Going My Way” and “In the Year of the Priest, the Tale of a Prisoner.”  I have also many times described the challenges of priesthood spent in prison. Among all that I have written on that score, however, what I would most want readers to re-visit on my 30th anniversary of priesthood is “The Sacrifice of the Mass Part I” and “Part II.” I could end this post right here because all I would want you to know of my thirty years as a priest is contained right there.

None of what I have endured in prison means anything at all without the freedom to sacrifice.  I didn’t get this when I was first ordained. It was only when my own crosses became many and great that I began to understand the priesthood of sacrifice. It is what author, George Weigel described in “The Priest: Icon of Christ, Enabler of Sanctity.” I mentioned this same essay in “The Expendables: Our Culture’s War Against Catholic Priests” in April, but a few lines from it jumped out at me again for this post:

“The Catholic priest is set apart from the world for the world’s sake. In a culture like ours, his life is a sign of contradiction to much of what the world imagines to be true . . . His being different is not an end in itself, an indulgence in idiosyncrasy. The priest is a sign of contradiction so that the world can learn the truth about itself and be converted.”

THE COURAGE TO SACRIFICE

I remember vividly the very moment I first envisioned myself as a priest. It was 1968, a year of immense upheaval. If you weren’t around then, or are too young to remember, you might want to read a chilling account of 1968 by Monsignor Charles Pope entitled, “1968 – A Fateful and Terrible Year Where Many in the Church Drank the Poison of this World.”

He captured well the reality of 1968, and the decade that was the backdrop for my generation of priests.

Monsignor Charles Pope was seven or eight years old in 1968, but I was fifteen, and had just begun attending Mass for the first time in my life. Monsignor Pope described that year as “a cultural tsunami from which we have not yet recovered.” It was in the very middle of that cultural tsunami that I first envisioned myself as a priest. In part, at least, the idea of priesthood might even have been a reaction to that year.

Smoke of Satan Has Entered the Church

“The smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary.” ~ Pope Paul VI

My first thought of priesthood came not during a Mass, however, or in the company of any of the priests I knew. It came while I was watching a film, but today I cannot recall what film that was. As a prisoner, I just don’t have the means to research such a thing but it contained a scene that I could never forget.

It was taking place at the outbreak of World War II as Hitler’s Nazi regime spread over all of Western Europe. The setting seemed to be a Catholic seminary. As the Nazis marched onto the grounds to storm the buildings, everyone fled for their lives; everyone, that is, except two priests.

Dressed in their cassocks, they risked their lives to race to the seminary chapel where they opened the Tabernacle to quickly consume the Body of Christ because of their fear of desecration by the invading Nazis. As everyone else fled from the cavernous building, the two priests put their faith first and their safety last.

After consuming all the hosts in the Tabernacle, they were too late to escape. They were taken prisoner, and suffered unspeakable abuses while their lives were bartered for concessions from the Vatican – concessions that could not have been made. The two priests suffered terribly.

The mindset of 1968 saw those two self-sacrificing priests as fools – clowns in cassocks who defied the values of this emerging “me-first” generation with the foolish sacrifice of their freedom and their lives, and for what?  For a tenet of faith that the Western World was on the very verge of mocking anyway? The very idea of priestly sacrifice is something our culture has come to despise, and the real test of Catholic faith and the Catholic faithful – including priests – is the extent to which we have capitulated to this cultural “me-first” evolution that saw its birth in 1968.

The film depicted well something that I described recently in “Accommodations in the Garden of Good and Evil.” It  depicted the power of sacrifice for what we believe, and the great threat posed to faith when the concept of sacrifice is diminished by our culture of selfishness.

At the age of fifteen, new to the life of the Church beyond my family’s tradition as twice-a-year marginal Catholics, my eyes were opened and I saw those two priests for what they truly were: heroes. They were courageous men ready to lay down their lives for belief in something greater than their own selves. It was my very first vision that the Church is called not to emulate culture, but to challenge it. As George Weigel wrote:

“The reform of the priesthood cannot mean making Catholic priests more like Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, or Unitarian clergy. It can only mean a reform in which Catholic priests become more intensely, intentionally and manifestly Catholic.”

DISMAL FOREBODINGS

But make no mistake, we will suffer for it. The signs are all around us, and there is no escaping it. Our culture is in for some very hard times. The role of the Church and priesthood in Western Culture is going to be severely tested, and we stand at the precipice. Much of what we have taken for granted in terms of freedoms and rights is about to fall from under us. We are on the verge of cultural disaster, and the faith that our world now laughs at will – if it stands fast – usher the world through another Dark Age.

The-Principalities-Army

As I watched that great film at the age of fifteen, I could not help but wonder what I would do in a circumstance like that Nazi invasion. Would I run for my life? Or would I race to preserve the Body of Christ from desecration at the cost of my life?

The years and decades to follow would never test me in a single defining moment as the Nazi invasion tested the two priests in that film. In time, however, I would come to know the cost of discipleship in my priesthood, and I would be asked to pay it to preserve the truth. Long time readers of These Stone Walls know that I am paying it now.

At age fifteen, when my vocation to priesthood was conceived in the midst of a cultural tsunami, I had no delusions about myself, no adolescent fantasies that I would somehow be the Captain America of the priesthood.

Didn’t happen! But for days after watching that film about the Nazi invasion, I struggled with that chapel scene, and with what I might have done in that same circumstance. I even dreamed one night that I fled for my life from the pursuing Nazis, and awoke feeling disappointed with what felt like the inevitable truth about myself. My nightmare was that, like Saint Peter before me, I betrayed Christ to save myself.  I knew I wanted a life that stood for something beyond the me-first world all around me, but I wasn’t sure I had the courage for a life that stood apart.

I just didn’t know how to challenge my own instinct for self-preservation.  None of us knows until the battle is upon us.

And even today, after 18 years as a falsely accused priest in prison, I still struggle with the challenge of being an imperfect man and a flawed priest in the most awful of circumstances. My only remedy for this is something I wrote in my Holy Week post in April:

“Some TSW readers might wish for a different version, but I cannot write that I would have heroically thrust the Cross of Christ upon my own back. Please rid yourselves of any such delusion. Like most of you, I have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into just about every grace I have ever endured. The only hero at Calvary was Christ. The only person worth following up that hill – up ANY hill – is Christ. I follow Him with the same burdens and trepidation and thorns in my side as you do. So don’t follow me. Follow Him.”

EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES

As Monsignor Michael described himself in “The Red Blood of the Martyr,” I, too, am just an ordinary priest. I have no special gifts at all, but I am an ordinary priest in extraordinary circumstances.  Prison, especially being in prison for eighteen years without having actually committed a crime, qualifies as an extraordinary circumstance for any priest. Monsignor Michael cited that mine is a voice that “from the depths of his prison, dares to speak the truth.”  I accept no accolades for that. Neither priesthood, nor the truth, should be applauded for their very existence. Anyone who comes to the priesthood asking, “What’s in this for me?” has no true vocation. Anyone who comes to the priesthood as a source of admiration and popularity should look elsewhere.

Heterodoxy

Last year, Joan Frawley Desmond, an editor for the National Catholic Register, joined a Franciscan University pilgrimage to Poland and wrote of it in a three-part journal for the Register. Her third installment, “A Pilgrim at Auschwitz,” described the reality of that horror. I described it as well in “Saints and Sacrifices: Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein at Auschwitz.”

I fear sometimes that such articles are not widely read because they are painful, and indeed they are. But we must not look away, and we must not fail to see the abiding hope that arises in the midst of such pain and the immensity of its sacrifices.  Joan Frawley Desmond quoted Blessed Pope John Paul II in declaring that Saint Maximilian Kolbe is “the patron saint of our difficult century.” He is also the patron saint of These Stone Walls, and of prisoners.

Our good friend, Father George David Byers, recently sent me a printed copy of his May 1, 2012 post by guest author, Dawn Eden on Holy Souls Hermitage entitled “St. Maximilian Kolbe: ‘Only Love is Creative.’ “  Dawn Eden is the author of a compelling new book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. I plan to write much more about this healing gift to victims of abuse very soon.

In her Holy Souls Hermitage post, Dawn Eden wrote about Father Maximilian Kolbe’s “freedom” while in that horror of a prison at Auschwitz. He was free to sacrifice, and that sacrifice saved another at the price of his own mortal life in extraordinary circumstances.

My 30th anniversary of priesthood in extraordinary circumstances could feel hopeless under the standards of this world and its self-serving culture. But the image of Saint Maximilian Kolbe that I described in my very first posts on These Stone Walls is still above the mirror in my prison cell.  I cannot see myself without also seeing this prisoner-priest who guides me daily through the foreign land of prison. He defines my priesthood and the necessity of its sacrifices. In this, I’m giving the last word to the NC Register’s Joan Frawley Desmond:

“But there is another lesson to be learned at Auschwitz. In every circumstance, no matter how desperate, we have a measure of freedom to love, to hope, and to believe. At Auschwitz, amid fear, death and suffering, Christ the Redeemer remained present to all who joined their sufferings to his own passion and death on the cross . . . We sought the intercession of the saints who perished here, and for the grace we need to follow their holy example.” (NC Register, “A Pilgrim at Auschwitz,” October 23, 2011).

As I lay prostrate before that altar on June 5, 1982, I had no idea of the grace of sacrifice that might be called upon for me to be a priest in the modern world. And the truth is – God help me – that if I knew then what I know now, I still could not flee for my life. I place my thirty years of grace and sorrow and sacrifice as a priest at the feet of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, forever a prisoner-priest.

About Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles and The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus encouraged Father MacRae to write. Cardinal Dulles wrote in 2005: “Someday your story and that of your fellow sufferers will come to light and will be instrumental in a reform. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound will be a monument to your trials.” READ MORE

Comments

  1. Bea says:

    Thank you for 30 years of faithful service and sacrifice, Father Gordon.
    How much a single film can impact one’s life I have experienced in the last two years. I remember vividly the screening of OF GODS AND MEN (Des hommes et des dieux, France 2010) at the local European Film Festival and how I walked out of that movie theater touched to the deepest core of my being. It was that film that made me embark on the journey of learning about the contemplative tradition and learning to practice Centering Prayer as taught by Father Thomas Keating O.C.S.O.
    OF GODS AND MEN features the daily lives of a group of Trappist monks stationed with and supporting an impoverished Algerian Muslim community. Under threat by fundamentalist terrorists in the area they must decide whether to leave or stay. The viewer is privy to the internal and external struggles of these monks.
    I highly recommend this film and wish it could be shown behind TSW. If there is any way of facilitating this, I’d be happy to have a copy sent to the prison library.

  2. God bless you… I was in internet ‘black out’ for a few days when your anniversary came and went.You were however in my prayers. I wish with all my heart that your next anniversary will be celebrated in freedom. You do so much good for the Church. I feel like a dwarf beside you. AD MULTOS ANNOS !

  3. Pierre Matthews says:

    Lord, bless abundantly Gordon, celebrating 30-years being your priest and prophet among us.

    Lord, Pilate and the Temple priests falsely accused you; like you, Gordon was sentenced to the cross.

    May Gordon’s sacrifice help our churchleaders and our priests seek justice and charity toward all our priests unjustly accused, left with no defense and incarcerated.

    We pray: grant Gordon, your priest, strength and freedom.
    Amen

  4. Irene says:

    With all the love and prayers from Africa. I presume the most difficult place to practice religion and specifically Catholicism today is in the US and not our continent that is home to diverse humanitarian crises. In solidarity

  5. Liz F. says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father!! Woohoo! Thank you for your priesthood. God bless you, Liz (Frank and gang)

  6. pam wagner says:

    May you be blessed on this your anniversary of 30 years in the priesthood. May you know, especially at this time, how you have blessed so many during these years. Never doubt that you ahve made a difference for goodness and love in the lives of many..and you do so daily from where you are! Love, Pam and Fran

  7. pam wagner says:

    Prayers and gratitude to you for all these years of being faith-filled and a blessing to many. May our God of Compassion fill your heart and being with peace and knowledge that your living your priestly vocation continues to make a difference in our world. Love, Pam and Fran

  8. Juan says:

    Blessings to you on your Ordination Anniversary, Father Gordon.

    Father, I don´t see you as a flawed priest like you describe yourself this week but rather as a priest who is helping me (and I am sure many others) get closer to God. After all this is one of the main purposes of priesthood. And if you see yourself imperfect or weak, thank you for your openness about it, those of us who are weaker feel better; above all, that’s exactly how Saint Paul saw himself (2 Cor 12, 7 – 10).

    It is of great value in current times that you spoke of the heroic action of the two priests in the movie “The Cardinal”, risking their lives to defend Christ’s Body from eventual desecration by the Nazis. Just as one more example of the many such heroic testimonies, all around the world and all throughout history, it is well to remember here the lives of the 977 persons (among a total of over 7,000 documented to have suffered a similar fate) who, between 1934 and 1939, sacrificed their lives as a witness to their Christian faith, during the Religious Persecution by Leftist elements in Spain. Many were shot to death. There were others put to death in much more cruel circumstances which I will spare the readers for now. These 977 people were beatified by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. All of us will benefit from praying to these Martyrs of The Religious Persecution in Spain in the 1930s, for their intercession is much needed in our troubled world today.

    In the period and place just described, being an ordained priest or having professed in a religious order, being a lay person belonging to a Church charitable organization or praying in public were all actions that meant prison and / or death (with or without previous torture). A number of the victims tried to hide for a while but, when arrested, they did not deny their faith and died pardoning. The lives I have had a chance to review were those of persons who stood fast, not necessarily because of a previous heroic make-up, but through God’s grace, bestowed upon them who were ordinary people with a record of having been truly good persons , persons of prayer, charitable people.

    Father Gordon, you know there are others caught up in a most unjust situation too, in one way or another similar to yours. You know you have “a comrade – in – arms” in my pen pal of over a decade Pablo Ibar, on death row now in Raiford, Florida. From all I know – now it’s not time for details – he qualifies for being a falsely accused person. He was no hero before being trampled on by an unspeakably unjust legal system so disrespectful for persons and for the truth as well, a system driven by dubious interests, as it happened to yourself. Now the two of you have been pushed into heroism and are giving us a such a great example for us to follow! Thank you so much indeed!. I am praying so that truth may end up being publicly recognized in both of your lives and am asking others to please do it too.

    Praise be to God for your thirty years of priesthood. I am praying for you, for Pornchai, for everybody in the house, and for the other people . . . .
    Juan.

  9. Phyllis Seitz says:

    Father Gordon, I appreciate your image of being dragged to the graces. I so often find myself with a similar feeling. I can only say, “my Jesus I trust in your mercy”.God be with you.

  10. Kathleen Riney says:

    Thank you Father for your sacrifice. You are so right, we have a few very rough yrs in front of us before the full “Springtime” of the Church evolves. Top evidence for this is the fact that you’re still in prison! And the attitude against Catholics & priests is getting a lot worse, not better. It’s still unbelievable to me that the USCB has done nothing for you! They refuse to use the power they have. You & all the holy priests who have been abandoned by American catholics are always in my prayers. God’s Peace be with you-
    Kathleen Riney

  11. Sarah says:

    Hi dear Father G,

    Happy Anniversary! You have, as both man and priest, been a vehicle for so much good for the Church. We are proud to be members of your online parish family. You have shared with us, and inspired us to join in, the mission to speak up about these issues. I venture a guess that many of us began a transformation the very day we first encountered the virtual “miracle” that is TSW. May God richly bless Charlene and Suzanne (…and you need to give them both hearty raises!). Prayers for you and Pornchai. Pray for us, and please kindly offer your some of your sufferings for us.

  12. Patricia says:

    Dear Fr. MacRae,

    You are in our prayers daily and will be especially so on June 5 as you celebrate the 30th anniversary of your ordination.

    What a beautiful article you have written on the priesthood! Perhaps it will help us all to appreciate the beauty of this special gift to the Church even more. I trust that God will use the generous gift of your sufferings to help purify and unite His Church which is in such turmoil today. May He bless you in a very special way on you anniversary.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration to all of us.

  13. Esther says:

    Dear Father:
    Mass will be offered for your intentions on June 5th, the 30th anniversary of your ordination (at Blessed Sacrament Church, Paterson, NJ).
    BTW, nice to have you back!
    God bless,

  14. Claire says:

    May you have many more years in the Priesthood, Fr MacRae. God bless you.

  15. Elizabeth Leurer says:

    May God bless you Father Gordon on your anniversary!
    You are a model of courage and inspiration for us all. Be assured
    of my daily prayers for you.
    God Bless.

  16. Mary Jean Scudieri says:

    Hi Father!
    I thank God that He has blessed you with 30 years of priesthood.
    I also thank God that He has let you drink from His cup, for if you hadn’t many would not know and love Him more!
    Easy for me to say, but it was just Pentecost and the Spirit does renew the faith of this weary earth.
    You are where you are meant to be in His plan because He needs you to do His work where no other can. What looks to us as a curse is really a blessing from Him in what the results bring about. This is what our life here is about, sacrifice, so that in the next life we will have His intended life, beyond all human understanding!
    Prayer is powerful and I will continue to offer them especially at my daily Masses that I love beyond all measure. It is where I feel
    at peace from all that troubles me and where I feel Him and know Him the best.
    You are a priest forever and I thank God for His grace and blessings to you. For you are truly one with Him in your suffering. You drink from His cup and you do so with courage and joy. God love and bless you and Pornchai and all of our friends there in Christ. Your friend, Jeannie

  17. Valerie Joy Kreiliclk says:

    Dear Father McCrae;

    I first want to apologize for not responding to the letter you wrote me since march. I hope to reply soon. I want to give thanks to God for the gift of your “YES” to the priesthood! Happy Thirtieth anniversary. You have blessed our lives more than you will ever know. Dear St. Maximillian Kolbe’s feast day is on my birthday. I have come to know this saint well. You are under good guidance and protection with him. I pray that your thirty first year will reap wonderful miracles! God Bless you!

    Love, Peace, Prayers and Joy, IN Jesus Christ,

    Valerie Joy Kreilick

  18. Edward.Fullerton says:

    Fr Gordon, Know too I “pray” for your most blessed Suzanne your fellow American and other unsung heroes of this world. Thanks for the prompt, IHS.

  19. Fr Gordon,Know I constantly remember you in my prayers.IHS.

  20. Domingo says:

    Welcome back, Father G!

    What’s happening around us as you pointed out in this post would only escalate. I think your story is helping to prepare your readers to be ready to face the sacrifice when called upon in his or her own way — all according to God’s Will. I pray for the grace of faithfulness, that I should not miss my moment of visitation!

    I am forwarding your post to my nephew who is in the seminary. He needs to see real heroes in the priesthood. I humbly request you and the readers to please pray for him.

    Keep writing, Father G! You are doing a lot of good!

  21. gemma says:

    So pleased that you are back with us. I pray for you every day I also remember Father Corapi and Father Pavone. God bless YOU.

  22. Lupe K. Gwiazdowski says:

    Father, I am glad that you are back and that somehow you had, from behind bars, cultivated talented friends to take your place. I pray for you. Please pray that those of us who are inspired by holy priests will find a way to be holy in spite of our lay cowardice. It is hard to be Christian, but I want to do better. Thank you for your witness in the daily grind of prison. I hope you are out soon! And Happy Anniversary!

  23. Andi Hyde says:

    Dear Father, I was directed to this website from Twitter this evening. The article on celebrating the mass was very poignant. I have recently become much more aware of the sacrifice of Priests and your life is a testimony to Christ. I am in the UK, and I will workout what time your mass is, to be with you in prayer. I offer you to God in my prayers, for his assistance and his support. In Faith, Hope and Charity Andi

  24. Cheralyn says:

    Welcome back Father! You are in my daily Prayers. Truly you are an inspiration. God bless you.

  25. jamil malik says:

    As happens so often on These Stone Walls, this left me stunned and speechless. In prison you have somehow found a freedom that most of us who are “free” have forgotten. It’s the freedom to choose the person you are going to be in those awful circumstances.

  26. Ann Couper-Johnston says:

    Maximillian Kolbe frightens me
    The English Martyrs frighten me
    I cannot sing Faith of our Fathers …..

    I am too aware that one could be called upon to make the same sacrifice and I am not going to sing something I don’t mean.

    I was the same age as you, a little earlier in the 60s, when we had history lessons on the Third Reich. My schoolmates all said: “It couldn’t happen here.” I said it could, and they called me the little Nazi (way too German-friendly, they thought).

    Now we see Church adoption agencies being shut down because they are not allowed freedom of conscience; our liberal dictatorship demands they accept homosexuality, or else. And the tactics used by the homosexual rights lobby remind me of just those used by Hitler – disruption of meetings of opponents and intimidation of anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

    I read the book The Cardinal, too, but I don’t remember that scene. I was fascinated by it because things Catholic were mysterious and forbidden ….. please pray for the Aunt whose book it was; she got all the old Protestant objections (and the reward of being one of the witnesses to my reception into the Church).

    Thank God for your priesthood! The reading at my dad’s funeral was Phil: 2:5ff and you will know what sort of a person he was by that. Priesthood always puts me in mind of that, though he would have said it applied just as much to the ordinary man in the pew.

  27. Bernadette Ward says:

    I believe that your blog is an instrument of healing in the hands of God. Keep writing.

  28. Veronica says:

    God bless you, Fr. Gordon! For what they are worth, you have my prayers.

    Bernadette, you are right – it is “The Cardinal”. Funny – I am reading the book at the moment, but saw the movie when it first came out in the early sixties.

  29. AD MULTOS ANNOS!

    Dear Father Gordon,

    The priesthood of Jesus shining out from within you drops me to my knees in humble thanksgiving before our One High Priest, Mary’s Son, Christ Jesus.

    Shared humble thanksgiving… I think that’s what is meant by the oft quoted and at times gloriously lived proclamation that the priesthood is the greatest brotherhood known to man.

    “And the truth is – God help me – that if I knew then what I know now, I still could not flee for my life.”

    Father, thank you for manifesting your ever so small, and for that reason, ever so epic and glorious part in the sacrifice of the entire Mystical Body of Christ in your priesthood.

    Just as those priests in the film rushed to protect the Blessed Sacrament in extraordinary circumstances, so you rushed to protect the truth in all charity, also in extraordinary circumstances. As they protected the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, so you protected the least of our brothers, about whom Jesus Himself said, “What you done to the least of these, you have done to me.”

    In preserving the truth amidst false accusations, you suffer in solidarity with true victims, who have been doubly raped by accusers proffering false witness for the sake of money, profiting off the sufferings of those who now suffer more than ever. Just as those two priests were heroes for the Body of Christ, so you are a hero for the Mystical Body of Christ.

    There were two priests in that film, one supporting the other, and both carried along by Christ Jesus. Know that there are many priests “on the outside” who are in solidarity with you, so that we can support each other, and all be led by Mary’s Son to live that Sacrifice of the Mass, from which you had been deprived for so many years of your imprisonment.

    The Italians speak of their anniversaries of priesthood not in terms of years, but in terms of years of the Mass they have had the privilege to offer. Father, don’t think for a second that you’ve missed out on the grace of even one day of Holy Mass. Our Lord brings us into His Sacrifice in the way He wills, and provides the grace of His friendship as He wills.

    Εὐχαριστοῦμεν! My brother priest! We give thanks to our Lord together.

    AD MULTOS ANNNOS!

    Father George

  30. Karin says:

    Welcome back Father. That phrase which you used: “the freedom to sacrifice”, really defines what true freedom is and should be whether it be in the priesthood or any other state of Christian life. I think too often we in this culture confuse freedom with license. Freedom is the ability to choose and do what is right. You along with many other good priests live that freedom in your priesthoods. It may not be pretty or easy, but with God’s grace and Mary’s help, you do it. So on behalf of many, I thank you for the courage to live your priesthood in the spirit of true freedom and sacrifice.
    Continued prayers, especially as you celebrate 30 years of priesthood.
    God bless.

  31. bernadette mck says:

    Welcome back Father! And special prayers for you on the anniversary of your ordination. ‘Thou art a Priest for ever…’

    The film you mention was on TV recently. It is indeed an extremely moving film with especially the scene you mention. My Parish Priest put that excerpt on his blog some time ago. The film is ‘The Cardinal’ and you may be interested to know that the Vatican Liaison Officer for the film was a certain Joseph Ratzinger!

    It is always interesting to learn what prompts a young man to offer himself for the Priesthood. In my own Parish there are two young men who are just about to start their Seminary training – sadly a rare occasion these days – but they have a wonderful example in our Parish Priest.

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