[dropcap type=”4″]W[/dropcap]hen I went back to Texas for the Easter break, my family and I attended our parish for Holy Thursday Mass. Afterward, our pastor wanted to give everyone a chance to go to confession before the Easter Vigil.
You have to understand that St. John Paul II in Denton is a university parish, and when we were students, it was the campus ministry where my wife and I met. Mass is still celebrated in a university-owned non-denominational chapel, while the campus ministry building, which currently serves as the parish, is literally a shack off the side of the campus.
We processed from this on-campus chapel to the shack, a good eight blocks, and Fr. Kyle went into his upstairs office/confessional, and we all stood outside waiting to confess our sins. A Holy Thursday liturgy typically ends late, so confessions didn’t start until 9 p.m. I was able to go at about 10, and there were close to three times as many people behind me than in front of me.
He later told me that he was hearing confessions for about five hours. This dedication to his people is intense, but so is, I’m sure, the dedication of so many priests here in Phoenix, and elsewhere.
I also used to work with a Sister of St. Mary of Namur. Sr. Yolanda was so sweet, I was actually worried I’d get diabetes just by being in her presence. Of course she’d always want to see pictures of my daughter when I saw her in the hallway, but she also made sure to always faithfully keep me in her prayers. For five years, every request I sent to her, she always brought it back to her community and they prayed for whatever it was that needed praying for.
While both of these examples are back in Texas, this just goes to show the universality of a vocation. Right here in the Diocese of Phoenix we have priests, deacons, brothers, sisters and consecrated lay people who are faithfully serving the Church — and that includes us as the Body of Christ.
We all have stories — what’s yours?
I wanted this month’s edition of the Sun to focus on vocations, because every one of you, I’m sure has a similar story you can share about someone who is living this vocation. With three young men being ordained deacons, one young woman entering religious life, and another young man who will be ordained to the priesthood at the end of this month, it seemed appropriate to honor them.
In Exodus 17, we see the Israelites are in battle — when Moses’ hands are raised, they’re winning, and when his hands are down, they’re losing. So it is with our spiritual leaders — as long as they have their hands raised, they are providing us with the sacraments, challenging us to live faithfully, praying for us — we can win the spiritual battles of our lives. But what happens when their hands fall?
“Moses’ hands, however grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Exodus 17:12).
They can’t support us unless we are raising their hands — we support them in their vocations, pray for them (I can’t imagine the spiritual battles Fr. Kyle faced during that marathon Reconciliation service), recognize their humanity, and encourage vocations among our own families.
Next time you see a priest, deacon, brother or sister, thank them for raising their hands during your battle, and maybe offer to support their hands, too.
Share your story
How has a priest or religious made a difference in your life? Let us know in the comments box! Selected stories will be shared in an upcoming edition of The Catholic Sun.