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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thanksgiving For Forty Years of Blessings

With Bishop Nicholas D'Antonio, OFM, my ordaining bishop, on the day of my ordination, May 22, 1971
As you have been made aware earlier on this blog I will mark an important milestone this Sunday--40 years of priestly ministry.   I want to take this opportunity to thank God for using me as His instrument in so many ways, ways that are beyond my own abilities and that have to do entirely with His Grace--be that with preaching, counseling and spiritual direction, or in the confessional. I also want to thank all those who have sent me cards and prayers for the occasion, and to thank the many people who have become part of my life--from Boston, to New York, the Bronx, Buffalo, Camden, NJ, the many places where I have preached missions in English and Spanish, in the US and Canada, the people of Bolivia, especially the campesinos, who left a permanent mark on my life, and the people of Eagle River, Phelps and Land O'Lakes, WI.  I could not have imagined 40 years ago the number of folks who would become part of the fabric of my life.  I would add to the list the people whom I touched and who touched my life through Marriage Encounter, many of whom have become lifelong friends.

   One of the real joys of these 40 years was the day I was preaching a mission in Spanish in Hialeah, FL in 2002.  I was approached by a young man from Cuba, Erick Lopez, who expressed interest in joining the order.   I will travel to New york tomorrow to participate in his ordination.  What a blessing.

   I just returned from a wonderful time in Assisi which was basically a retreat, but also a vacation.  It was a time of reflection, thanksgiving and re-dedication to my life as a friar and as a priest.  I pray that in whatever years I have left I will be an even better priest and servant of the needs of God's people.  I know that God and God's people will continue to bless me in ways beyond my wildest imagination.

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