The Gospel this weekend shows us the dynamic leadership role that Jesus exercised in calming the sea and assuring his disciples that His Father is in charge of all aspects of his creation; we are merely stewards and participators in it. How appropriate, then, it is that we celebrate Father’s Day, honoring our earthly fathers, who are given charge of families and exercising a capability of keeping things at even keel during the storms of life. The privilege of having a good father at the helm of family life is a blessing that not all families have. It is so important that fathers provide a great example of living faith for their children to follow as together they seek to grow in virtue and holiness.
Whatever our state in life, in the midst of our sense of being overwhelmed by the depths of life’s problems, Christ offers us a way forward. We put our trust in Him. Jesus offers His disciples the inner peace that the world cannot give, and here we are asked to let go of our fears and accept that same gift. It does not mean that we will not experience life’s storms and challenges. It does mean that we will be able to ride such encounters like a good sailor, accumulating the wisdom that centers us on what matters, what is true. Even when Jesus seems asleep in the boat, our trust in Him can bring about the easing of the wind and the calming of the sea. We’re reminded that we’re never truly alone, for indeed “God is with us.”
Last Sunday evening the Youth Group of our parish feted me with a fabulous celebration honoring my 50 years of priestly service. They presented me with a colorful (red, white, and blue) fanny pack stuffed with different denomination bills for future travels, which I shall begin at retirement – after August 31st. I was touched by their generosity and kind wishes. Then, they prayed over me, two-by-two, that I may receive the necessary graces to continue ministering to God’s People. I was very moved by the sincere and reverent manner in which they extended their hands above my head and shoulders during an uplifting prayer session that lasted over twenty minutes. It enabled me to recall quite vividly my Priesthood Ordination in the Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul in Philadelphia on that warm Spring morning in May of 1971, when the Archbishop, John Cardinal Krol, extended his priestly hands over my twelve classmates and myself, praying that we might receive the Holy Spirit for a long-term of priestly service. All of my classmates are retired now from parish ministry (some by a direct act of God), and I soon will be joining those ranks.
I’m most appreciative to Cheryl Dineen, her husband, Jerry, and the adult leaders of our young people, for their kindness and devotion in drawing these youngsters closer to God; and I will be remembering all of them constantly in prayer, hoping that the same Holy Spirit I received will continue to guide them through life, perhaps even calling some of them to consecrated service, as I was. I only ask that you join me in praying for more vocations to priesthood and religious life from our parish, especially that parents will consider promoting this in their family prayers.
As I continue with the thank yous marking my jubilee, I wish to express my gratitude to our school leadership, faculty and staff for their kind congratulatory expressions. In the classrooms, their students created quite a number of exquisite artworks and touching notes marking these fifty years of priestly service, especially these past fifteen and one-half years as Pastor of our parish family here at St. Vincent Ferrer. Not only were they heart-warming felicitations, but they reflected the intelligence and the wisdom of our kids in pouring forth their sentiments. It makes me proud to see the benefits of providing a Catholic school education for our students here at St. Vincent Parish and the growth in faith opportunities that Catholic schools promote.
Thank you to all who sacrificed much to provide this opportunity for our children; may their successes in life come back to you in the form of many blessings.
Elsewhere in this week’s bulletin are additional congratulatory messages which I share with you in the form of a papal blessing and an official resolution adopted by the Florida State Council of the Knights of Columbus at their annual state convention held in Orlando over the Memorial Day weekend. As you can envision, my heart overflows with gratitude for these and the many kind gestures and expressions and gifts which you recently presented me for my fiftieth. I shall never forget you in prayer and thought, and will offer a Mass of thanksgiving for you and your family at the altar-tomb of Pope St. John Paul II in Rome this September. You are special!!!!