Ten years ago on this day I stood as Bishop Leopold Frade, then Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, proclaimed and asked:
“As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed
the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in
accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the
people among whom you work, caring alike for young and
old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach, to
declare God's forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce
God's blessing, to share in the administration of Holy
Baptism and in the celebration of the mysteries of Christ's
Body and Blood, and to perform the other ministrations
entrusted to you.
In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ's people from the
riches of his grace, and strengthen them to glorify God in this
life and in the life to come.
My brother, do you believe that you are truly called by God
and his Church to this priesthood?” (BCP 531)
I answered, “I believe I am so called.”
Then, after the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands, something transformative happened. I became a priest. For the last 10 years, I have been inspired by, loved by, consoled by, and lifted up by all of the different people that I have had the sacred honor to serve. Everyday for the last 10 years, I have been witness to the incredible faith of Christ’s body in the world today. Every year, for the last 10 years, I have experienced the joy in this vocation. Yes there are times that are hard, challenging, and make me want to scream…but in the end there continues to be joy.
I don’t know how to be anything less than a joyful priest. Yes, I am human, so some days I may be cross or be in a foul mood, but when I sanctify God’s people through the sacraments there is nothing but joy in my heart. I do not know how to do it any other way. I became a priest because of the joy that Christ speaks of in the Gospel; a joy that overwhelms our hearts and must be shared. It is that joy that I spend my time trying to pass on to God’s holy people so that they may pass it on to others, friends, family, and strangers alike.
Ten years…and I realize that it is still just a beginning. I remain humbled every time I approach the altar to break the bread and to share the living presence of Christ. On this day, I thank all of you who have allowed ,and continue to allow, me to serve you, to absolve you, to offer God’s blessing to you, to feed you, to preach to you, to anoint you, to love you, and for simply allowing me to be your priest.