Over the years I have been here I have grown spoiled, and so have you, to enjoy the company of priests who are engaged in graduate studies. Wishing to remain in a parish setting, they both reside here and practice their priesthood here. Last August, that habit received a disappointing jolt when Father Jason Grisafi petitioned his bishop to drop the graduate study part of that equation so he could dedicate himself to the practice of parish priesthood. None of us begrudge him that decision, but in our selfishness, we regret that it took him to a parish other than ours. And so he returned to The Island That Is Long, and the student-priest room in the Holy House of Soubirous went empty through an entire academic year.
But now in that room, once again there is the creaking of the study chair, the midnight oil being burned, and books arriving to line the shelves. The savvy parishioners have noticed that a third car is parked once more in front of the rectory. We have a student priest!
Father Jason Williams of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has been assigned by his Archbishop to pursue a degree in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America by participating in their “summer-only” program. There are online and distance requirements over the other three seasons, while the student priest remains in his home diocese and fulfills his regular duties, but he must come to campus for three intensive eight-week summer semesters that span June and July. For that, Father Williams needs a place to live, and we just happened to have one close to campus.
“Intensive” is no understatement, as I saw when Father Joe McCabe was in the Canon Law program and living here some years back, so do not expect to see much of Fr. Williams around the place. But he will be celebrating Sunday Masses and helping here and there during the other days, providing that welcome “third voice” in the rotation and bringing a welcome energy to the mix in the rectory. Please welcome him if you see him – but let him go study if he seems anxious.
Please try to attend the Priesthood Ordination at 10:00 AM this Saturday (15 June) at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, at which our own Ben Petty and nine others will be ordained Priests by our new Archbishop.
The first thing a newly ordained priest does is, of course, offer Mass. A new priest’s First Mass is especially joyful and brings to all who participate particular blessings and indulgences. Father Petty’s first Mass will be here at our 11:00 Parish Mass on Sunday (Father’s Day).
After the Mass, come to the festive reception in the school hall. Many folks have already volunteered to help with food and hospitality for the event, so come hungry – and ready to welcome Father Petty’s family and friends. If you haven’t already, contact Margaret McDermott or Jasmine Kuzner to offer help.
It is a great grace to receive the blessing of a newly ordained priest. Father Petty may be exhausted by the events of the weekend, but that grace will not be exhausted. He will be around for much of the week after the ordination, too, so maybe you’ll be blessed to have him as celebrant at the daily Mass you attend. And for a few days, we will have yet another priest in the rectory. How spoiled we are!