I want to write about priesthood. This week I celebrate 25 years of Josephite Priesthood. I remember the day of my ordination vividly. It was in the chapel of St George’s College back in England where I was in community. The college choir sang along with another sixty diocesan choir members (I was at the time chair of the diocesan music committee), the organ music was to be French 20 century and the liturgical music was to be British, participatory and composed after Vatican II. The one anomaly was the exit anthem, Zadok the Priest which is Handel’s great Coronation anthem. As I went out with the Bishop he whispered in my ear, “Have I ordained you or just crowned you?!” The reason for this piece was that the choir had it in its repertoire for their tour that year. It was fun.
But if you asked me 25 years ago what would I be doing I would never in a month of Sundays thought I would be here in Santa Maria as Pastor of SLdM; but I’m glad I am. I worked as a priest teacher in schools in London until I was 40. At that age I felt the need to move more into pastoral work and so I became a pastor in the East End of London for about 15 years and then, after a return to St George’s College as Josephite Regional Vicar, I was asked to come here. That’s the basic story line. But what does it mean to be a Josephite Priest?
It means to be able to live the Josephite Charism and Spirituality as an expression of service to you, God’s people, as servant of the Word and Altar. I am an instrument of His mercy; a preacher, a teacher, a liturgist and a confessor. It allows me the great privilege of walking with people in the highs and lows of their lives, helping them to discover more of the mystery of God’s love for them in their daily life experiences.
Priesthood is a life of apostolic adventure. You never know what the day has in store, a phone call; a knock on the door; can change everything. There are ups and downs but each day is its own world punctuated by the rhythm of prayer and Eucharist which anchors the life.
Finally, it is humbling. Everyday someone says some thing or does something kind or generous or wonderful that makes me feel true humility before them and God. I’m no good at taking a compliment so when I receive them I after wonder at God’s almighty presumption to use me as a pastor. I’m a sinner and I need humbling!
But I do I hope he uses me for another 25 years.
God bless you and your families Fr Aidan Peter CJ