“Praise the Lord, my soul!” (Psalm 146:1b)
In the spring of 1984, right here in this beautiful church of the Divine Providence, I received for the first time the greatest gift that Christ left us: the gift of the Eucharist. My first memories of my faith were forged right here in this parish where my parents tirelessly worked as parishioners from 1980-1986. I remember the beautiful Masses, the Good Friday processions, the first “Griterias,” and the fun of the annual festivals. It is here where I received catechesis in CCD, where I discovered the beauty of the Mass when I made my First Communion, and where the beginnings of a priestly vocation journey began. My childhood friends, who are still my friends today, were raised here with me, and we would run out to the lake after every Mass to toss rocks into the water. We would get in trouble for being too noisy during Mass or for rolling down the very tiny hills that made up the parish grounds, but it is here that I as a little boy discovered the precious gift of my faith. Who would’ve imagined that Providence would bring that little boy back to this parish so close to his heart to serve you as your pastor? I have come home!
What an honor the Archbishop has bestowed on this unworthy servant. As soon as he told me the news, I feel to my knees asking God to give me His strength as I put my total trust in him. This is exactly what the widows in today’s readings did despite their poverty. They gave everything they had to God and God greatly blessed them. As Christians, we must constantly commend ourselves to God despite our unworthiness, our sins, and our failings, and trust that he will provide for us. We must have the faith of these widows to throw ourselves into the unknown knowing that our Lord will provide for us.
I have come simply to serve. I only bring with me the Word of God on my lips and the joy of Christ in my heart. It is this Word and this joy that Christ gives us that we, as Christians, are called to share. And these are my memories of Divine Providence Parish: a community full of joy and filled with the love of God. The Archbishop has truly honored me with this precious gift of allowing me to serve you at the altar of Our Lord. As I commend my new ministry to the Lord, I also commend myself to all of you. I ask you to pray for me and for all priests so that we may be faithful and holy servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. With the help of God and the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, together we will continue the beautiful mission of this parish of sharing the Good News with the whole world. Who would’ve imagined that a little boy who used to sit among you and look up at this beautiful Risen Christ would one day serve this community as its pastor? What a joy to be back home! What a joy to be able to serve this holy people at the altar of Our Lord!