Several priests with special anniversaries of ordination offer reflections on priesthood.
60 years a priest
Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes
When I was in high school, the scriptural words in Luke 9: “What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” really spoke to me. God used those words to stir within my heart a desire to respond to a call to the priesthood. I thought to myself: If it is important to seek the salvation of one’s own soul, how incredibly significant is living a life of trying to help others respond to God’s saving and sanctifying grace.
In the course of priestly life, nothing has meant more to me than accompanying other people on their way to reconciliation with God and his church or help people discover and respond to their vocation in life.
God has introduced a significant number of surprises in the fulfillment of his call to priestly and presbyteral ministry. Some of these challenges have tested me deeply. But what has remained central is the celebration of the Eucharist, the celebration of the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, and the accompaniment of others on their road to salvation and holiness of life.
I do not know how many days, months or years God is going to still offer me. I pray that I can be faithful to that call until the Lord comes for me.
Vincentian Father Louis Franz
Providentially, I was ordained in June 1957 on the cusp of the dynamic period of growth ushered in by Vatican II, whose implications are still being explored. Of the many changes made by the Council, the emphasis on the central part the laity play in the life of the church was of paramount importance.
The dramatic changes in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, especially introducing the use of the vernacular and emphasis on the richness of the Scriptures as the basis of a daily homily, were particularly helpful in promoting the spiritual life of the laity. Each day, both readings together presented a significant truth inviting reflection and imitation.
My priesthood has been enormously enriched by these changes as I daily celebrated the Eucharist. And, finally, as a Vincentian priest challenged to proclaim the Good News to all, especially the poor, I have been deeply grateful for these changes.
Maryknoll Father David C. Kelly
My priestly life is and has been God’s greatest gift. What I thought it would be when I was first ordained has proven to be very different than I had imagined. It has been much more meaningful.
My own idea of the priesthood has been enriched and brought to fulfillment in ways I had never imagined. My nourishment has been God’s gifts of prayer, study, discipline, friendships and pastoral ministry. Most of what I had given time and effort to has been shown to be very little in comparison with the way God has worked through my life to open to others the door of his love, most especially in over 30 years teaching in seminaries in Latin America and the U.S.
My anniversary celebration will take place in the main chapel at Maryknoll, New York, on Sunday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m.
50 years a priest
Father William McGough
As I look back on my 60 years in the priesthood, these words of the Psalmist come readily to mind: “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”
However, as I reflect on how well I have measured up to the Lord’s goodness, what comes to mind are these sober words of the apostle Paul, “We carry a treasure in earthen vessels.”
I thank God for the many people, godly people, he has placed on my path. In the various parishes of our archdiocese where I have been privileged to serve, they were faithful companions on the way. They challenged me, they helped me grow. A goodly number have since gone home. They will always be in my thoughts and prayers.
Meanwhile I press forward, trusting in the love of our God. For each passing year, for the good that can be accomplished, for the happiness that can be shared, I am deeply grateful.
God is good – all the time.
Holy Cross Father Anthony J. De Conciliis, D. Min., Ph.D.
Fifty years ago, I was ordained as a religious priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross. I served the church in a variety of apostolates and capacities over those years, most of which have been in academic positions. In each position, I attempted to create a Christian culture and to witness to the saving work of Jesus Christ. It is through our response to the challenges of service that we become true ministers of God’s plan.
I was called to ministry in the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 2005 as the president and CEO of Our Lady of Holy Cross College (now the University of Holy Cross), where I led the college successfully through the challenging years after Katrina. In 2011, I was named to the post of vice president and director of the Institute of Medicine, Education and Spirituality at Ochsner Health System.
As part of my response to this challenge found in health care, I teach caregivers the practice of virtues for the care of those who are need of healing. I find great joy and peace in this teaching and research ministry.
The Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers will have anniversary celebrations at the University of Notre Dame on June 16.
Redemptorist Father Allan Weinert
I believe I received two educations in the priesthood. This first is in the seminary, and it is an excellent education. The second has been taught to me by the people I have been sent to serve. I had to learn that it is not always the big things I would be asked to do. More often it is the small things and in some miraculous fashion, the big things take care of themselves.
I had to learn that it is not that important to be judgmental. It is more important to be compassionate. And I had to learn that events will not always happen on my timetable. But they do happen on God’s timetable. I am still learning that people care less about how much you know, until they know how much you care. I am grateful to all of those teachers.
Father Joseph M. de Water
I was ordained a priest on June 2, 1967. To be able to celebrate Mass daily is something to be thankful for. I have always been very interested in visiting sick parishioners at home and in hospitals.
It was a joy to teach children of the First Communion class. Once I was teaching the little ones and telling a story about Jesus, and one little boy raised his hand and said: “I saw you in church last Sunday!”
To be able to serve as a priest, due to God’s loving grace, is really something to behold. I am living in my retirement in The Netherlands.
40 years a priest
Jesuit Father Lawrence W. Moore
When I was ordained in 1977, I expected to be assigned to university teaching. That is exactly what has happened. I have been a member of the faculty at Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Law for 35 years.
For 15 years, I was an associate dean, and I have been interim dean for the past two years. I have taught nearly 5,000 lawyers-to-be.
The biggest surprise in my priesthood has been the pleasure of preparing and performing over 200 weddings. I try to contact each couple on their anniversary. For most of my time at Loyola I have regularly celebrated Sunday Mass at the Hainkel Home. I also celebrate a Mass for law students every week.
Father Bernie Terrebonne
As for me, Matthew 10:31, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven” says it all. I have been blessed to acknowledge Jesus, our Lord, before a great many people in a variety of settings: parish, high school, prison and military.
My greatest blessing was the opportunity to serve the Lord and our nation as a Navy chaplain with the United States Marine Corps. To be numbered among our country’s veterans is an honor and a treasured experience. May Almighty God continue to bless our church, our archdiocese and the United States of America!