Bishop shares insights on priesthood with soon-to-be priests
As ordination nears for the four men who will become the diocese’s newest priests, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., led a May 19-24 retreat for Rev. Messrs. Carlos Aguirre, Jorge Bedoya, Garry Koch and Juan Gabriel Rojas in San Alfonso Retreat House, West End. The bishop delivered a series of presentations focusing on priestly fidelity and what it means to experience a call to holiness.
Encouraging the soon-to-be ordained priests to periodically reflect on their “vocation story” – why they wanted to become priests and how they evolved during their seminary formation – the bishop offered insight on how to remain faithful to “what we are as priests.”
It is through sacrifice and a willingness to devote their lives in service to the Church, that a priest becomes “something much larger” than himself, the bishop said.
Speaking on “Fidelity to what we do as priests,” the bishop said that priests are ordained to serve as “shepherds, teachers and sanctifiers within and among the people of God.”
“We do what we do as priests because we are priests,” he said, “and the degree to which we are faithful to what we are as priests, we will be faithful to what we do as priests. We are called to serve. And the more faithful we are to what we do as priests, the more that we and others will see what we are.”
“The priest must embody faith in everything he is and does. If that faith is evident, it will inspire the same in others; it will give rise to hope in his own heart and those around him and lead to charity.”
Quoting Scripture, Bishop O’Connell conveyed that holiness “is a call to transformation.”
Holiness, said the bishop, “means, first of all, that we make a conscious decision that Jesus Christ is and will remain the center of our life; it means that we ask for, beg for the grace of God in our lives, and the transformation required in pursuit of holiness is learning to transform our everyday activities into prayer.”
For the priest, said Bishop O’Connell, the call to holiness finds its best expression and greatest opportunity for realization “in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Holiness is remaining in and with the Lord Jesus Christ and allowing him to remain with you,” he stated. “It is that comfort with the Lord – much like the comfort and ease and security you feel when you are with a good friend whom you love.”
“That’s what we seek in the priesthood,” said Bishop O’Connell. “And that’s the only thing we take with us when we leave this earth. Be holy priests and leave the rest to God.”
Rev. Mr. Juan Rojas expressed gratitude for the opportunity to come together with his ordination class and with Bishop O’Connell for the pre-ordination retreat, noting that it helped to build camaraderie among the transitional deacons, who attend different seminaries, as well as to strengthen their relationship with Bishop O’Connell.
In addition to the talks given by the bishop, the retreat also included evening presentations by other priests and representatives from the diocese who addressed the more practical aspects of pastoral ministry. [[In-content Ad]]