Important milestones should be remembered. For most people, their birthday is the fitting moment to celebrate. It’s a time to gather with friends and family for cake, presents and greetings.
But is it the same for a priest?
As Priests, our families greet us on our birthdays (my parents always send me a thoughtful letter and a gift card!).
But in the family of the Church it’s different. The priest becomes a father of the spiritual life of the flock entrusted to his care.
He has the responsibility of ensuring the sacramental, devotional, financial, educational needs of the flock are met. This gives a true, but incomplete picture of the priest.
A priest is a man, taken from among men, who is consecrated by God to become a saint in a unique way, and to help make saints. The Catholic Priesthood was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper and carried down the ages by the laying on of hands by the Bishop.
The Priesthood is not the same as lay ministry. Lay ministry affords the faithful an essential participation in Church’s life of charity and worship. The Priest’s body and soul, on the other hand, are supernaturally configured to Jesus for eternity. He doesn’t only act in the name of the Church and Jesus, but acts in the very Person of Jesus, the Priest is an alter Christus, another Christ.
The priest does many external functions, but the dignity and essence of the ordained priesthood resides first not in what he does, but in who he is: An Icon of Christ in the World.
Therefore, the best way to honour a priest is to greet him on his anniversary of Ordination or on his Saint’s feast day.
So you can mark your calendars for we priests here:
Fr. Joao Ferreira was ordained on May 11, 2019. His saint is St. John the Baptist.
Fr James Cherickal, our pastor, was ordained on December 26, 1989 (30th anniversary this year!). His patron is St. James the Greater.
And I was ordained on June 29, 2013. I suppose while I’m here, my feast day is St. James the Lesser!
Pray for priests!
Fr. James Zettel