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Fr. John Grant: Being a New Priest and the Year of Faith

Dear Parishioners,

This past August marked a brand new experience for me in my life: being a new priest. My life is full of new experiences right now, but one of them was that for the first time in twenty-nine years, I did not go “back-to-school.” I watched as family, friends, and our students here at Holy Family all made the annual transition from summer leisure back to productive scholarship. But I was relieved that I was done with school; no more learning, no more classrooms, no more exams, and especially, no more papers! Or so I thought… Here I sit writing this article, learning every day just how little seven and half years of seminary prepared me for the numerous tests and challenges that come with being a young priest. To be honest, I am not surprised by this, but shouldn’t graduating from school for (possibly?) the last time bring some respite from the perpetual quest for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom? Experience has led me to discover that the answer to this question is a resounding “No!”

    The conclusion may be obvious, but this lesson needs to be applied to our spiritual lives too. Certainly there is the homily every Sunday that is supposed to help us understand the Scriptures and apply their lessons to our lives, but is that all the maintenance we need to be good Christians? St. Peter says in his first letter, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…” (1Pet. 3:15). Anyone who has received the sacrament of Confirmation shares in the Apostolic Mission of the Church to “…make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded…” (Mt. 28: 19-20). This obligation to evangelize prompted Blessed Pope John Paul II to call for a “New Evangelization” in 1983, not only to those who have never heard the Gospel, but also a reinvigoration of the Christian witness of the faithful who come to Mass every Sunday. But how de we engage this call to spark the fire of the New Evangelization? Pope Benedict XVI has given us an opportunity, in part, by dedicating the next year to be a Year of Faith. A whole year meant to focus the Church on rediscovering, deepening, and growing our Catholic faith. Because, just as I learned in my experience of being done with school; we may have graduated from Religious Ed classes, but we never really graduate from learning about our faith. And this is a responsibility we all share, not just the deacons and priests, not just the RE teachers, all of us!

So what can we do to cooperate with the grace of this Year of Faith and respond to the Holy Father’s Call? The Diocese has been planning several events and opportunities, and there will be information about them coming to you on a regular basis, but here are a few highlights:

  • Let the games begin! On October 11, 2012, every parish in the diocese will be simultaneously celebrating an opening Mass of the Year of Faith at 7:00 p.m. Bishop Slattery will celebrate the Cathedral’s Mass, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism.
  • Extra, extra… The diocese will also be providing each parish with free Catechisms for those who need one in order that each of us may study the basic truths of our faith.
  • I Believe!!! The Holy Father has asked all Catholics to pray the Nicene Creed every day for the next year since that is the most fundamental synopsis of our faith and then you can learn more about what each phrase means by studying it with your Catechism.
  • A touch of Class? If a dynamic and interactive environment is more your style, consider coming to Deacon Mattox’s Bible Study on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm, or perhaps get a refresher overview by attending RCIA classes on Wednesday nights at 7:00pm. There are also courses available through the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) on a regular basis. And next Spring I hope to begin showing Fr. Robert Baron’s Catholicism series once a week with a facilitated discussion.

With so many opportunities, and even more than are listed here, can we afford not to take advantage of the grace that comes from this invitation? Blessed John Paul II adopted as the motto for the Third Millennium the summons our Lord made to Simon-Peter: “Put out into the deep…” (Lk. 5:4). If like St. Peter, we trust in our Lord’s call and respond, we too will garner wonderful things!

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One Response to "Fr. John Grant: Being a New Priest and the Year of Faith"

  1. Pam says:

    Got on website to check daily Mass schedule for this Thurs/Fri when I will be back in my hometown of Tulsa watching granddaughter. Confirmed noon Mass time. I Saw Fr. John Grant’s article. Even though I am not from parish, found it informative and inspirational. (If I had a facebook acct I’d say)Likes. Thank you. Pam

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