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priestly abundance

April 15, 2010

One of the most moving aspects of Easter was the number of priests on the altar throughout the Triduum.  Holy Week is the most demanding week of the year for priests, but St. Isidore Church managed to have seven priests grace the altar on Holy Thursday and five were present at the Easter Vigil.  (Good Friday saw a similar number, and while I don’t have an exact number since I was not in attendance due to my work schedule, I do have confirmation from eye witnesses [Rosario & Angelica] who were present.)  Throughout Holy Week, many of those same priests sat for several hours every day offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

My parish, St. Isidore’s, is blessed to have several priests living on the grounds, not only at the rectory, but also at the John Paul II Home for Retired Priests.  There are about six or seven priests in residence.  Fr. Mitchell told me and my sisters how many lived there when we visited him at the house a few weeks ago, but I was too busy focusing on the other things Father was saying to remember the number.

“St. Isidore’s has a great love for priests,” he said.  “This home is such a blessing!  It couldn’t have happened anywhere else.”  I could hear the relief in his voice, a relief I am confident is shared by his brother priests living at JPII, that he had a place: a place where he is welcome, a place where he belongs, a place to call home.

While there are many parishes in our diocese who love and appreciate the priesthood, St. Isidore’s has a particular love for priests.  Fr. Lomasiewicz’s rectory door has always been open to priests and seminarians in need of a place to stay due to transitions, retirement, etc.  They have come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with various gifts and ministries as well as histories and personalities.  The parish followed our pastor’s example in welcoming these priests into the parish family.  We learned to love them as individuals, as men and as ordained ministers of the Church.  It is no surprise that this respect for Holy Orders was manifested through the conversion of the unused convent into a place of support and community for our beloved priests.

I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I gazed upon the priestly abundance throughout Easter.  In a time when the priesthood is undergoing trials and scrutiny, these men continue to serve Christ and His Church with humility and faithfulness.  I was continually reminded of Fr. Mitchell’s words spoken deliberately and with conviction : “This home is such a blessing!”  I was reminded as all of the priests descended from the altar to distribute the Eucharist, eliminating the need for any Extra-Ordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist.  I was reminded when Fr. Lomasiewicz chanted the Gospel allowing me to savor the Easter readings and when the words of the Exultant, gently sung by Fr. Bozung, resonated in the deepest recesses of my being.  I was reminded as I watched these ordained men lived their vocations to the full in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: “This home [this parish] is such a blessing.”

Holy Week and Easter are always intensely beautiful, but this year – the year of the priest – each liturgy had an incredible richness and depth due to St. Isidore’s priestly abundance.

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