Monday, October 18, 2021

God’s call: My experience of ordination to the priesthood

by William Gural sscc

    I was a bit nervous at my ordination, but also very thankful and filled with wonder and awe.  Many in our parish and beyond worked hard to make this ordination mass beautiful and God glorifying.   Processing down the aisle the last time as a deacon, I felt deep reverence for God and gratitude for God’s love and this life-giving sacrament.

     Bishop Edgar da Cunha’s homily at the ordination really hit home.   He spoke about vocation essentially being God’s gift and work.  God equips those called, not call those who are qualified.  The vocation is not because of us.  God gives us the grace.  I too many times worry and think about my work, and too often forget that our lives are in God’s hands.  If we rely on our talents, we will be frustrated and disappointed, but if we depend on God, we will be satisfied.   We need to get out of the way, and let Jesus do what He wants in our lives.

     As with his homily at my diaconal ordination, Bishop Edgar had words of challenge and admonition.   The ordination is not for myself, but in order to serve God and the people.  The bishop reiterated the gospel message of Jesus coming to serve, not to be served.  If we seek ordination for honor and privilege, we are on the wrong track.  Pope Emeritus Benedict said if we come to ordination to enhance our prestige and power, we have misunderstood ministry.  These sobering words were helpful amid the splendor and majesty of the ordination liturgy.  While this splendor reflected the glory of God and His divine beneficence, we are called to be humble servants.   Bishop Edgar quoted St. Teresa of Calcutta: “We are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful.”  This was a strong reminder to maintain that inner fidelity to Christ, and have this faithfulness manifest in my actions: serving God and His people in the Eucharist, reconciliation, preaching, prayer, and pastoral care.   I hope my whole life is a witness of Christ and a channel of God’s grace.

       Bishop Edgar also told me the Sacred Hearts need my faith, my prayer and my service- unconditionally.  I feel this even more acutely as we lost a very generous, hard-working, faithful, dynamic “Energizer Bunny” priest, Fr. Chris Keahi just today, Oct. 17th.  

      The first mass (Thanksgiving mass) was also very moving.   It was such a blessing to preside at the altar and be the main celebrant while being assisted by the deacon and two concelebrating priests, Fr. Stephen Banjare, the pastor of St. Joseph’s, and Fr. Lane Akiona, our provincial of the U.S. Province.  It was touching to worship the Lord together with a full house at the mass and see many people I had not seen in a while.   It was quite a blessing for me to experience so many people wanting to be with God in this liturgy, and to give me a boost as I begin my priestly life and ministry.  It was a huge blessing or me to help others - in a small way - in their relationship with God and one another.  I feel so blessed to receive so much love from the people and from God, and to experience their trust in the ministerial priesthood.  I want to share this love serving as a shepherd for Christ’s kingdom, uniting them more closely with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who loves us so.

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