Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
First, I am incredibly grateful for all the volunteers and staff that helped make our liturgies this past Holy Week and Easter so remarkable and profound. It’s amazing to see the enormous preparation that is necessary behind the scenes to support the beautiful, ancient (and sometimes a bit complex) liturgies that directly connect us to our very roots as Catholic Christians. I express my deep gratitude to all those who helped in any way. Thank you!
Every year at the Great Easter Vigil, I have a very personal celebration – my conversion to the Catholic faith. It is, I like to say, a movable feast. Having been baptized, confirmed, and received my first Holy Communion all in one night at the Easter Vigil of 1994, I have come to look forward to the Easter Vigil every year in a special way. This year I was reflecting upon twenty-five years as a Catholic. It has been an amazing experience to say the least. One observation is that, since God is eternal and infinite, there is always more to learn! To paraphrase St. Gregory the Great, the whole faith is “broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.” In the Catholic faith, I did not lose anything, but gained more sacraments and a family we call the Saints, alive in Christ beyond this earthly veil, who love us and pray for us as we do in this life.
The main word that comes to mind when I reflect over these years is gratitude. I am immensely grateful to God, whose providence led me here. Not only did He want me to become Catholic, but a priest of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to my parents, who laid the foundation of faith in Christianity. I was not a “blank slate” in that respect. The faithful example of my family was amazing. I am grateful for the young man whose courage to make the Sign of the Cross in fifth grade led me to look up “Catholic” in the encyclopedia, planting a seed that would slowly but surely grow. I am grateful for the friend in college from New Jersey who “pushed” me across the threshold of my first Catholic church. I was hooked! I am grateful for the woman who first suggested that I think of being a priest. Even if certain things cross our minds, and even if we are “born for” certain things as part of God’s plan, we often need someone to say it out loud for us, and she did that for me.
People often talk about us “converts” as being zealous, which I hope is true. However, I’d like to point out that in every case above from fifth grade through my conversion and the priesthood, it was a so-called “cradle Catholic” that helped me. Many others, cradle Catholics and converts alike played significant roles as I went on growing in the faith. We need each other. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how immensely grateful to God I’ve been to be with you in this wonderful parish for nearly eight of these twenty-five years!
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us be grateful to God for His loving mercy, for His providence that has led us here, and for this amazing faith!
Yours in Christ and Our Lady,