I recently met a religious sister who was visiting St. Mary’s with her aunt. She was from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (S.O.L.T.), and is currently ministering as an elementary school principal. Before we left the conversation she thanked me for my vocation, and I thanked her, for hers.
After being ordained June 2021, I have now been ministering at St. Mary’s for eight months, and am truly grateful to be here. Fr. Bryan, Fr. Luke, and I recently took a priest retreat in Ellicottville for two days of skiing, fraternity, and reflection. One of the questions asked of me during one of our talks was: “What are your greatest joys of being a priest?”
Besides meeting and getting to know the parishioners and staff at St. Mary, I answered, to celebrate the sacraments. I recently celebrated a baptism with a family. Baptisms are such happy and joyous occasions for a family. It is a privilege to be a part of that, welcoming someone into the Church, as a child of God. Celebrating the Mass is a great privilege as well, to proclaim and preach the Word of God, and celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist. The sacraments of healing—Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick, has been a very rewarding experience for me also, to offer the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God.
In this Sunday’s Gospel St. Luke writes about the calling of the first disciples. Jesus fills the fishing net of Simon Peter with fish after they had not caught any all night. Peter recognizes Jesus for who he is, and says to Him “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Jesus replies to Simon Peter “Do not be afraid. Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of people.” It is important to remember, Jesus did not call the most righteous and most perfect people to follow him. He calls us all, and asks us to have faith in Him.
I remember when I was discerning a call to become a priest I spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection. I used to read the short messages from the vocation office found in the bulletin at my home parish of St. Louis Church in Buffalo, and would ask myself if becoming a priest is right for me.
I did talk to priests, friends, and family about possibly serving as a priest. It did, however, take a priest that I knew, to ask me after Mass one day if I ever considered it. That gave me the final bit of encouragement. He simply said, “Ryan, have you ever thought about being a priest?” His simple question was what I needed to make the next big step.
I started this reflection sharing how I had met a sister who had thanked me for my vocation to serve as a priest. I consider it a great blessing in my life to serve as a priest, especially here at St. Mary’s.