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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Celebrating the Gift of Being a Priest and a Jesuit

On a Monday morning two weeks ago in Quebec, the Poor Clare community got a rare treat. My newly ordained Jesuit brother Andre had come to say mass for them. And with them he brought two Jesuit deacons (soon to be ordained themselves) and three Jesuit priests, including myself, to concelebrate. It was a wonderful celebration, and each of us even dared to make a contribution to the prayer, in French. The Sisters held a reception afterward for Andre and, as we gathered round, they insisted Andre tell the story of his vocation. It was in French, of course, so I was only able to get the gist of it, not all the details. But when he was finished, I completely understood when one of the sisters commented (in French also), “So, you’re a young priest, but an old Jesuit.” We laughed, but also nodded our heads, because what she said was true.

Today I celebrate a year as a priest. And it is truly something to celebrate! I love being a priest, even though it has only been one year, and there are still so many “priestly” things I haven’t done. So, no need to change the name of the blog. One year in, I’m still a rookie. But I have also been a Jesuit for almost 12 years, and that, to me, is just as much cause for celebration. That’s why I’m glad that today was pretty low-key as far as anniversary celebrations go. I didn’t preside at a mass to celebrate the year. Instead, I concelebrated the first mass of another brother Jesuit. Then, I enjoyed the day with several other brother Jesuits—spending the afternoon in the city, going out to dinner, seeing a movie and just talking. A fitting way for this “old” Jesuit to celebrate the gift of my “young” priesthood, a gift inseparable from whom I have become because of my brother Jesuits and, of course, the people whom I’ve had the privilege to minister with and to. Next week I’ll celebrate with them.