This morning I celebrated Mass at the parish for the first time since April 1st. I did concelebrate a Mass each of these last three weekends, but this was the first "solo" flight. This illness that began on the 1st of April has robbed me of two months, and made me grateful for many things, not least of which are the help of my local brother priests and the prayers of so many friends and parishioners and staff. Today is significant because it is Memorial Day, on the original date, and my sixty-ninth birthday. How time flies.
Those friendships and the relationships that are established in ministry sustain me on my journey, and lift my spirits when times get difficult. A few weeks ago in the mail I received a letter from the local Serra Club of Greensburg whose sole purpose is to promote vocations to the priesthood. As a part of their efforts, they invite 7th and 8th grade students in the local Catholic schools to write letters to their local priests. I received three such letters this time. One was a 7th grader from Queen of Angels School named Johnny P. who thanked me for the school masses that I offered and also said "... the homilies that you give at our school liturgies have helped me make some important decisions about my faith that have been very helpful, and give me a sense of confidence in the decisions that I have to make." Jordan M. thanked me for my years of service as a priest and in the parish as pastor, and said "Your homilies are always very interesting and make me think about my life when I come home. I try to think about your homily during the week so I can live a better life." And finally, Lucas F. said "You are a great priest. I have had some wonderful experiences at your Church ... Everyone was nice there, and I could easily understand the homily ... Thank you for responding to God's call to the Church."
With words such as this, how can one's spirits not be lifted! Thanks, guys.