CardinalSeansBlog.org: The reflections of a newly ordained priest
The reflections of a newly ordained priest
Hello and welcome all to my blog!
As I mentioned in my last posting, I thought these first two weeks of July would be a wonderful opportunity for some of our newly ordained priests to share their reflections on the time since their ordinations in May. This week, I am pleased to bring you a guest posting by Father Daniel Kennedy who, along with six other fine men, I ordained to the priesthood on May 26. In June, he began his assignment as parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Winthrop.
I wish to express my thanks to Father Kennedy for his willingness to put this post together even in the midst of a very busy holiday week.
I hope you enjoy this guest post and may you all have a blessed and safe summer!
+ Cardinal Seán
As I reflect upon my first six weeks as a priest, there are a full range of notions and emotions which come to mind. Each day seems to be a new adventure. Both the ordinary and the extraordinary have taken on a new meaning as I adjust to the new configuration of my identity.
The Ordination and Mass of thanksgiving over Memorial Day weekend were milestones in my life, unlike any other. The sight of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross teeming with people who truly love the priesthood should be in every vocations video.
The sheer joy on the faces of so many in attendance will be with me forever. What a great day for Christ’s Church. On a personal level, I was so moved by the opportunity to share such a special weekend with so many family and friends, who through prayers, encouragement and patience helped make the realization of my vocation a reality. My 13-year-old niece told me that she never thought she would have to wait in line to talk with her uncle.
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My first Mass at my home parish of St. Joseph in Needham was in many ways a dream come true. I had been to a few first Masses at St. Joseph’s years ago, but the fact that this one was in thanksgiving for the priesthood that the Lord has asked me to share, really blew me away.
I was surrounded by priests who had been instrumental in my formation and development over the years. With me at the altar were Fathers Francis Reilly, Charles Higgins, Michael Lawlor and Brian Manning. The bookends were Father Francis Kennedy who baptized me 33 years ago and Father Brian Manning, my deacon intern supervisor who taught me so much about priesthood. In between were many happy, holy and healthy priests who have provided an invaluable priestly witness along the way. My dear friend and ever so patient mentor, Father Charlie Higgins preached the homily. The altar servers were young men that I have known and watched grow since the day they were born.
My sisters Katie and Anne Marie and my brother Jack proudly and eloquently proclaimed the word of God. My sister Patti, my niece Ashley and my aunt Judy presented the gifts and my dear parents presented me with a most beautiful chalice in memory of the Kennedy and Haggerty families.
I knew when I entered formation that going it alone was not a possibility. The first Mass of thanksgiving was such a great way to celebrate with those who kept me focused, kept me sane and made me feel so loved along the way.
I do not believe that there is any class or course of study which could fully prepare one for the enormity and awesome nature of Holy Orders. My first few days at St. John the Evangelist in Winthrop, simply put, have been in many ways like beginning a new job, that is, a new job which will last forever, a vocation I was born to fulfill. Everywhere I turn there has been a new face, a new experience, a new system with which one needs to become familiar.
I began my first weekend by speaking after Communion at each Mass, as a way to introduce myself to the faithful of the parish.
I explained that although we do not know each other well, from what I have already learned of this great community, I feel that right off the bat, there are some things we all share in common: a love for God, a love for family and a passion for all things that are the Boston Red Sox. I explained that I am a priest so anxious to serve this parish, as well as a left fielder looking for a softball team!
Celebrating Mass everyday is about as humbling an experience as I have had in my life. Truth be told, a great deal of energy is spent ensuring that I am celebrating the Mass properly. I have been told to loosen up a little bit. I think I know what that means, but it may take a while. I was reminded of a prayer to be said before Mass and I have found it particularly meaningful. “Lord may I celebrate this Eucharist in union with you, as though it were my first Eucharist, my only Eucharist, my last Eucharist.” It is my hope that I will never lose sight of the privilege it is to bring Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, to the good people of God.
In addition to saying Mass, I have had the opportunity to celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Penance and Anointing of the Sick. Each ministerial encounter has been unique. Comforting is the fact that the sacraments actually do something, they are true encounters with Christ. I call upon myself to decrease, while Christ increases.
Clear to me in such a short period of time as a priest has been the fact that Catholics truly crave Christ in the Eucharist. There is such a desire to come to know Christ more and more each day through His Word, and to be nourished by Him who is the Bread of Life.
I have also been touched by how welcoming, helpful, and forgiving of my rookie mistakes people have been. Such support fills me with a great deal of hope for the priesthood in which I share.
Fr. Daniel Kennedy
[Original with photos: http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/2007/07/06/the-reflections-of-a-newly-ordained-priest/]