It was Chrism Mass 2008, the last one before the Cathedral restoration. I had finished my six-month term as administrator of the Cathedral but had remained in residence in the parish to give sacramental help while serving as the bishop’s master of ceremonies and as the newly-minted diocesan vocations director since the previous January. Being the MC and the director of vocations were both new jobs for me. This was my first Chrism Mass to oversee and I was working on what would be the first class of seminarians that I would shepherd-in for the following fall term. As I was running around before Mass, getting things ready, I was introduced to a senior from St. Anthony High School in Effingham. After meeting him, I went back into the sacristy and realized that I was short one reader for the presentation of the oils that were to be blessed. I walked back into the Cathedral, where this young man was still standing and visiting with those he had come to the Cathedral with, and I pointed at him and told him to come with me. That is how I first met our Father Braden.
Long before he came to us as priest, Father Braden was already familiar with the Cathedral Parish. Though you may not have noticed him then, Father Braden lived with us for two summers (’09 and ’10) while having other responsibilities those summers. It is amazing how fast those ten years passed, from his formation in college seminary to major seminary to ordination and finally to his time with us. I am grateful to him for the ministry that he has provided during his time here in the parish, especially for his faithful care of our sick and homebound.
Father Braden is leaving us to assume some large responsibilities. As you know, he has been assigned as parochial vicar to Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville, which has its own grade school, Routt High School, and the chaplaincy of Illinois College. The clergy at Our Saviour also serve as the clergy for the parishes in Beardstown, Arenzville, and Virginia. Father Braden will also begin his studies for a degree in canon law at the Catholic University of America in our nation’s capital, spending June and July there before arriving in his new assignment. To say that Father Braden is going to be busy is understatement; he is going to be stretched but he is up to the challenge and he will do well. He leaves with our love, gratitude, and prayerful support as he continues to model Christ the Good Shepherd for our sisters and brothers in his new parishes.
As Father Braden takes his leave, we have much to be grateful for in these days. We give thanks to God for Father Braden’s ministry and for the ministries of the many other priests who have served this parish. We give thanks for Father Michael Friedel who will be joining Father Wayne and myself here at the beginning of July. We also give thanks for the five new priests who were ordained this weekend for our diocese and we pray that God will lavish them with his grace at the beginning of their priestly lives. Among them is Father Dominic Rankin who spent the summer of 2016 with us here at the parish. Father Dominic will offer a Mass of Thanksgiving here at the regular 5PM Mass on Sunday, June 3rd. Please come and celebrate with us at that Mass next Sunday evening.
Finally, I wish to offer my thanks to you, our parishioners and friends of the Cathedral. I thank you for the love and goodness that you show the seminarians and newly ordained priests who come to our parish. They are sent here for a reason: Bishop Paprocki knows that they will
find good people here who will receive them and love them. I pray that the Lord will grant all of you the reward of your goodness. God bless you!