Later this month, I will have the joy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. While there were so many things that made that day special, there is one thing that stands out of which I am particularly proud. At a dinner celebration the night of my ordination, I had the opportunity to say a few words to the family and friends who were gathered to celebrate the event, and my first words were to acknowledge my parents. I drew attention to the fact that the following Saturday, they were going to be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. I was also happy to share that my grandparents on my father’s side (both of whom were there) had earlier that month celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. It struck me in that moment how the fidelity of my parents and grandparents to their marriage commitment provided a powerful witness to me as I was beginning my life as a priest. Just as God’s grace in their lives enabled them to persevere in love, so too was I hopeful that God would do the same for me in the years ahead as a priest. And after 10 years, I have experienced how God’s grace has indeed been the sustaining factor in my ministry, filling me with so much gratitude for the graces He has showered upon me.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony are known as Sacraments at the Service of Communion, for they are ordered toward the salvation of others. More than just being categorized together in the Catechism, there is a very real way in which these two sacraments are complementary to one another. After ten years as a priest, I can see the many positive ways that I have been influenced by the example of how my parents have lived (and continue to live) their lives. Beyond my parents, I also think of the many married couples I have known in my 10 years as a priest, and how they have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to me. I can only hope that the witness of living my priestly commitment has done the same for married couples or those preparing for marriage.
I know that I am not alone when I say how important married couples are to priests and deacons. I have no doubt that all of the clergy of this parish could point to the example of their parents, grandparents, and parishioners who have been sources of support and inspiration to them, helping them to live their ministerial commitment more fully. So on behalf of all of the clergy here at the Cathedral, I offer a special thank you to the many married couples in our Cathedral Parish for your witness. You help to make us better ministers who are privileged to help you in living out your vocations, as we all work together to help one another get to Heaven.