Although my time at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception this summer was very short (only one month), many faces and moments here will be happy memories for me and even food for prayer as I head back to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. I was privileged to meet some of you at bible studies, support groups, hospital visits, volunteer work, catechesis meetings, and various other gatherings here at the Cathedral. Most of all, I am grateful to have been able to pray with you during our masses every day and during afternoon Eucharistic adoration. I was blessed to have witnessed and assisted in some way with all three Sacraments of Initiation while I was here – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – which are special to me because they are such important sources of grace in each of our lives as Catholics. Although I can think of many moments and characters in my life which have influenced my decision to enter formation for the priesthood and helped my growth throughout my time in seminary, I believe that these Sacramental graces have been the most essential way in which God has accomplished his work in me so far. I sincerely ask each of you to pray for me so that the Lord will continue his good work in me as walk with Him on my way to becoming an ordained priest.
I didn’t know what to expect when I began my summer here at the Cathedral. My previous summer assignments were in a very rural part of the diocese; as such, being stationed in downtown Springfield was totally foreign to me. Little did I know that this summer would provide ample opportunities for me to encounter Christ in ways I never could have guessed.
One of the most impactful experiences of the summer was the opportunity to work with the parish’s GriefShare group. I had never heard of a group like this before and I want to emphasize how blessed you are to have one here. In the suffering of Christ, God both knows us and reveals Himself through woundedness. There are few wounds that cut deeper than the death of a loved one. As such, I had the honor of meeting my Lord every week that I was able to go to GriefShare and listen to what He had to say through the men and women gathered there.
Another blessing this summer has been witnessing the generosity of the people of this parish. At least once a week, someone was offering to take me out to lunch or dinner or coffee and tell me about themselves and their experiences. It was a real treat to meet so many kind men and women of the Body of Christ in a more casual setting like that.
Finally, I was privileged to meet Christ in the poor. In rural areas, there are fewer resources and so the houseless population is significantly smaller. Here, though, I met multiple individuals in need and had the honor of serving at St. John’s breadline on a number of occasions. This opportunity to serve isn’t found everywhere, and I can’t emphasize what a gift it was to me this summer.
So, thank you. Thank you for opening your parish doors wide to me and making me feel so welcome. Thank you for taking on the responsibility of caring for some of the most vulnerable members of our society in the work that you do. Thank you for the laughs, the tears, and everything in between. Thank you for modelling the Immaculate Conception herself in your generous spirit of warmth and hospitality.