May 21, 1971

Yesterday was my 40th anniversary of ordination. Instead of attending an anniversary party in Chicago, i spent most of the day in the hospital. Someone sent me the letter I had sent out 15 years ago. They were struck by my reflections then….and my expeirences now. I am too. The Holy Spirit guides and directs our lives preparing us for what lies ahead.

May 21 1971 – May 21 1996

Dear Friends,

Twenty-five years passes quickly when
you are having fun. And these have been fun
filled, inspirational years.

Last year, I had the opportunity of a
three month sabbatical. It afforded me time
to reflect on my years of ministry. They have
been incredibly positive, grace-filled years.
There have been so many wonderful people whose
lives I have been allowed to touch, that have
in fact, shaped and formed me. These
experiences have been transformational for me.
They have been redemptive. For them, for YOU,
I am thankful.

As I think of where God has been most
present to me, has most touched my life during
these years of ministry, it has been in the
death of teenagers. At first hearing, that
may seem ironic. But it was in the moments of
confusion and pain, of hurt and anger, when
there was nothing I could do but be present as
priest. Then I experienced what St. Paul
describes: “I boast most gladly of my
weaknesses…for the sake of Christ; for when
I am weak, then I am strong.”

In so many other “deaths” that I have
had the opportunity to share, I have known the
presence of God. I am reminded what a
privilege and honor it is to be invited into
the lives of so many wonderful people. For
you, who have invited me to walk with you,
thank you.

So, at the end of twenty five years, I
give thanks for having the opportunity to
rejoice and celebrate with many. But most
especially, I am thankful to have been allowed
to share in suffering and sorrow. For it is
in death that we are reborn to eternal life.

For remembering with me God’s
incredible gift of love, for being sacrament
of the Divine love for me, I bless you, thank
you and remember you in prayer.

Twenty-five years ago, Archbishop Byrne
prayed over me saying: May God who has begun
the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.
Now I ask you to remember me in prayer that
these next 25 years will bring those words to
completion.

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