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remember those who are gone from our midst..
Eternal rest grant unto them,
let perpetual light
shine upon them...
||Fr. Roy B.
||January 23, 1977
||Fr. J. White
||February 02, 1983
||Msgr. John A.
||February 13, 2002
||February 18, 2000
Lawrence A. Burke
||April 24, 1988
||Fr. C. Jack
||July 03, 1963
||July 12, 1995
||August 13, 1993
||August 31, 1984
Samuel E. Carter
||September 03, 2002
||September 04, 1974
||September 16, 1999
||October 05, 1986
||October 26, 2000
||November 26, 2006
||December 01, 1974
||December 31, 1993
Priests of the Archdiocese at their Annual Retreat at Mt.Calvary Retreat
HOMILY DELIVERED AT THE EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION
ON THE OCCASION
CLOSING OF YEAR
STS. PETER AND PAUL, 29 JUNE 2010
BY FR. DONALD
Association of Diocesan Priests
May it please:
• Your Grace, Most Rev. Donald Reece,
Archbishop of Kingston
• Most Rev. Edgerton Clarke, Archbishop Emeritus
• Reverend Monsignori
• Brother Priests, Deacons and their wives
• Religious brothers and sisters
• Priestly People of God
On behalf of my brother priests, I wish to thank God for his unfailing
presence within and among us, and you, the People of God of the
Archdiocese of Kingston, for your selfless support and prayers
especially during this past year dedicated to the Year for the Priest.
As we close this year inaugurated just over one year ago by Pope
Benedict XVI, we recognize that it is God who has called and chosen us
from among you to be a sacrament of God’s salvation.
We also recognize that our priesthood truly finds meaning and richness
from among you who have loved, supported and cared for us. Thanks for
gathering with the priests of the Archdiocese of Kingston as we
celebrate the gift of priesthood, and pray that God’s grace continues
its manifestation in the ministry of the Church and in our personal
I. Yesterday, June 28, on the memorial of St. Irenaeus, I celebrated my
18th anniversary to the priesthood. I wish to share with you an excerpt
from a pastoral letter from Irenaeus: “For this reason God, who
cannot be grasped, comprehended, or seen allows himself to be seen,
comprehended and grasped by men. That he may give life to those who see
and receive him.”
II. Today, as priests we identify deeply with the insight of Irenaeus.
These words are not just an intellectual idea. Rather, they touch and
speak to the very heart and essence of our priestly ministry.
A. When we celebrate the sacrament of (the):
a. Eucharist: We encounter the mystery of
Christ’s presence realizing that this incomprehensible God draws near to
us in the form of bread and wine in spite of our own unworthiness. We
are often overwhelmed when reciting the words, (Ask the priests to
recite it together), “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say
the word and I shall be healed. Or, “Lord, look not on our sins, but on
the faith of the Church.”
b. Or, perhaps from a homily preached and someone says to us, “Father,
you were preaching to me this morning,” or years later someone
approaches us and reminds us of a particular homily that helped to
change their lives, then we realized that God “allows himself to be
seen, comprehended and grasped.”
c. Reconciliation: We encounter the mystery of Christ’s presence
especially when we realize that God in his inescapable wisdom uses our
own human weakness and frailty as a channel of his grace and mercy.
B. When we faithfully carry out our daily ministry, and at the end of
the day question whether we had accomplished anything worthwhile, and
then an inspiring post card or email arrives expressing appreciation for
your ministry, then we realized that . . .
C. At the heart of our priestly ministry, we experience the real
presence of Christ drawing close to us in an intimate way. God allows
himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men. Or, as Benedict XVI
says, “It is fine and consoling to know that there is someone who loves
me and looks after me. But it is far more important that there is a God
who knows me, loves me and is concerned about me.”
III. Given the fact that our human weaknesses
as priests are so many and real, how is it possible that the People of
God (you) have been able to see, comprehend and grasp God through our
ministry? How is it possible that a parish priest, who struggled with
alcoholism and cigarette smoking, could influence four men and one woman
to become priests and a religious sister among others vocations?
A. Beloved in Christ, the answer to these
questions lies not in what we do as priests (our intellectual ability,
strength, eloquence, giftedness, leadership ability, capacity to raise
funds, or social influence), but in what God has done, is doing and will
do inside of us. The answer lies in the gift of freedom that we first
experienced in Christ at baptism and reaffirmed at ordination. As the
a. “The Spirit lives to set us free . . . (417).The Spirit lives in you
and me. . . His light will shine for all to see . . . The story is told:
b. In the 19th century, a plantation owner was moved by the sobs of a
young girl, a slave, who was about to be sold on an auction block. In a
rush of compassion he bought her and disappeared into the crowd. After
the auction, the clerk handed the girl a bill of sale on which the
plantation owner had written “Free.” Stunned by such unexpected
kindness, the girl begged to know the identity of her liberator. “He has
set me free,” she exclaimed. I must serve him as long as I live!”
c. When Paul writes that “When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain
free,” he expresses similar sentiments and conviction as the slave girl.
d. No longer enslaved by sin, those who have faith in God’s gift of
salvation in Jesus Christ are thereby free – free to serve God and the
needs of others.
B. St. Paul in Galatians 5:13 says, “... you were
called... to liberty...”
a. Our freedom comes in Christ who gives us his Spirit and calls us to
accept the Spirit into our lives, and to leave behind our attachments to
b. The scriptures testify to the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the
life of the two great apostles Peter and Paul whose feast we celebrate
with this closing Mass for the Year for the Priest.
i. Prior to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost,
the disciples lived like house and field slaves – shy, timid, nervous,
and anxious in front of the Jewish authorities. Upon receiving the Holy
Spirit, they became bold, brave, courageous and forthright in living a
life of grace
ii. Who would have thought that:
1. Peter, who denied Jesus three times, would have boldly stood before
the crowd on Pentecost and publicly witness to the life, death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ to the people gathered in Jerusalem?
2. Paul, who was an enemy of the Gospel, would become its most ardent
iii. When the Spirit sets us free, we overcome shyness, fear, cowardice
and step out in faith. We are willing to take risks, to suffer the
consequences, struggle for justice, experience ridicule and suffering
iv. When the Spirit sets us free, we are free indeed – free to become
channels of grace – channels of life.
1. “Jesus promised life to all . . .The dead were wakened by His Call .
C. It is this freedom in Christ that has inspired countless (diocesan
and religious) priests of this Archdiocese of Kingston to respond daily
to God by drawing near to him. As God draws near to us, we draw near to
God in our ministry.
a. St. Paul says, “My life is already being poured away as libation. .
.” Like Paul’s ministry, each time we draw near to God he demands that
we pour away our life, giving ourselves completely over to Christ
without counting the cost, that is, dying to self.
i. When we:
1. Abandon scheduled appointments to respond to the dying or the sick
2. Establish orphanages and extend care for children who are HIV/AIDS. .
3. Establish skills training centres to empower the youth . . .
4. Inspire our congregation with a well prepared homily. . .
5. Unfold the wisdom of God by sound teaching
6. Form missionary parishes. . .
7. Spend time in private prayer and in the presence of the Blessed
Sacrament. . .
8. Spend time grieving and mourning . . .
9. Absolve people of their sins . . .
10. Stand for justice and peace in a society in which they are scarce .
b. Paul reminds us that in the demanding ministry, “The Lord stood by me
and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be
proclaimed for all. . .”
c. When Christ allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped it is
then that our ministries become stamped with the cross of Jesus Christ
and then, like Peter we can courageously proclaim, “You are the Christ.”
i. “By Jesus’ love our wounds are healed. . .The Father’s kindness is
revealed . . .
IV. If we have become free in Christ, then we have a greater
responsibility as ministerial priests (in alto Christo) to be witnesses
as did the two Great apostles Peter and Paul. What we have experienced
in Christ, we have a responsibility to help others experience that
freedom as ministers of the word and sacraments.
A. In the same spirit,
a. Benedict XVI reminds us that “The priesthood, then, is not simply
"office" but sacrament: God makes use of us poor men in order to be,
through us, present to all men and women, and to act on their behalf.”
b. Monsignor Lewis quoted recently from a newsletter from a parish in
Malaysia struggling to be Christian in a Muslim country. An excerpt
reads, “The priesthood is a call, not a career; a redefinition of self,
not just a new ministry; a way of life, not a job; a state of being, not
just a function; a permanent lifelong commitment, not a temporary style
of service; an identity, not just a role”.
B. If Christ has set us free, then our responsibility is to be the
sacrament that sets others free
a. Let us not become:
i. Distracted with material possession; and
people of God do not spoil us or manipulate us with your wealth
ii. Mediocre regarding spending time preparing to feed the people with
the Word of God. People of God affirm us priests when we do well, and
challenge us when we miss the boat
iii. Lazy in responding to the spiritual, material and emotional needs
of our people. When they are mourning let us mourn with them, when they
rejoice let us rejoice with them
iv. Narcissistic about our self-image – concern about social image,
being the nice-priest trying to please everyone, or caught up with what
people are saying about us.
v. Caught up only in the lives of the rich to please them, and turn a
blind eye to their faults, and challenge only the poor.
b. Let us model St. Paul who says, “I become all to all men.” Let our
sacramental life speak to the cause of justice, and the establishment of
a culture of life. Let us work to establish a social structure that is
just, equal and peaceful
C. In Acts of Apostles, while Peter was in prison the “Church prayed to
God for him unremittingly.
a. I urge my brother priests do not neglect your prayer life.
b. I urge the People of God, pray for us your priests
c. I urge the People of God to pray that our priestly witness may
inspire an increase in vocations to the priestly life.
d. I urge you to pray that in and through our witness you may “see,
comprehend, and grasp the mystery of God” whose presence brings abundant
life to all who believe.