25th Anniversary Reflection

Thoughts on 25 Years of Priesthood 

They say, “time flies when you’re having fun.” As I reflect on the 25 years that have passed since that fateful day on May 22, 1993 when I was ordained by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, I would have to completely agree with that sentiment. These 25 years have really flown by fast! And they have been fun!

As part of the Rite of Ordination, when I laid prostrate on the cool marble floor of the cathedral I had no idea then that time would move so quickly. It had taken me 12 years of seminary formation, and many prayers, questions and even doubts to get to that moment. Those 12 years definitely seemed to have gone slowly. So in a sense, I was lulled into thinking that time would continue to creep by once I was ordained. In reality though, I was in for a surprise.

After a five week break before officially starting at my first assignment, I soon found myself hitting the ground running. Every Mass, confession, wedding, funeral and visit with parishioners in those first few years were exciting moments. The newness of everything during those first few years helped time to speed along.

But once I had gotten a few years under my belt, things were no longer new. And yet, time continued to go fast. In essence I’ve been doing pretty much the same things for 25 years. Conventional wisdom would dictate that with set routines time would slow down. What then has contributed to my perception of time flying by? I’ve come to realize that it’s the Holy Spirit. Like a paper being lifted and tossed about by the wind, these 25 years have been propelled by the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. With every day, and every parishioner I met, and every pastoral encounter I found myself in, the Holy Spirit was prompting, guiding and inspiring me.

Of course, not every day has been a walk in the park. There have been times when time seemed to slow down or even come to a complete stop. These moments have been far and few between though, but they’ve been there. Like when the wind dies down and the paper languishes on the ground, there have been times in my life filled with anxiety, fear and even sadness. It’s in these moments that just like in today’s gospel when the risen Christ breathed on the apostles and gave them the Holy Spirit, so too have I felt the breath of Christ lifting me up again.

With 25 years to look back upon, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude, first of all to Jesus Christ who has called me to be a part of his divine mission. I’m also grateful to my parents for being the first to teach me about God. I’m also grateful to my family that has supported me from the very first days I began to play “priest” as a child and began to give voice to my desire to be a  priest. I’m also grateful to the many priests who inspire and challenge me to be a better priest. I am grateful to the many parish staffs filled with dedicated deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, principals, music directors, youth ministers, secretaries and support staff I’ve had the privilege to work with and who taught me much about parish ministry. And finally, but most importantly, I am thankful to all the parishioners I’ve met at each of my assignments. I feel incredibly blessed to have been invited into their lives.

With so much to be thankful for, it is no wonder then that these 25 years have gone by so fast. I look forward then to the next 25 years going by as equally fast, if not faster!

Fr Sergio

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