Having been recently ordained a priest this past June 4, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive is, “what is it like being a priest now?” Borrowing the words of one of my fellow classmates who is also now a priest, “it feels so surreal and so right at the same time!” In short, being a priest is an amazing life and an amazing blessing – God is so generous and so good!
During a priestly ordination, there are so many special and beautiful moments that can be spiritually moving and emotional, especially for the ordinand. For many, it is often the prostration during the invocation and litany of saints before the moment of ordination, which symbolizes the humble laying down of his life in service of God and His Holy People. For others it is the moment of ordination itself. While these moments were of course very special for me, the unexpected moment that moved me the most, to several tears, was the anointing of my priestly hands by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin with the oil of Sacred Chrism, that they be consecrated to sanctify the people of God – for it is by the priest’s hands that the people receive the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. As I opened my hands to receive the anointing, I gazed upon them, imagining the countless sacraments they would celebrate and confer, and the countless graces and healing that God in His power would bestow on His people through them.
In the early days of being a priest, this is probably the most amazing — seeing the saving, healing and eternal work God accomplishes through what appears to be my simple actions and words: “This is my body”, “This is the chalice of my blood”, “I absolve you from your sins.” God deeply loves His people and so generously desires nothing more than to bestow His saving grace upon them. Being a channel of that grace and witnessing the work of His mercy and love in the lives of those I minister to is one of the greatest gifts and blessings. As a priest, the people of God see you as Christ’s representative, they place unconditional trust in you, and even without knowing you personally, they know that you love them and care for them, as Christ does, and it’s so humbling to be invited into the inmost depths of their lives and hearts.
Yes, I’m just a “baby priest,” but already God has accomplished through me more than I could have ever done in my entire lifetime on my own, because God’s work is eternal and salvific. It is still so hard to wrap my mind around the reality that God chose me, an unworthy sinner, to be His instrument, to be His priest, but I am so grateful He did because I know that for me there is no other life that I was made for or that would give me such great joy. God, I don’t deserve to be your priest — thank you.
I am most grateful to God, to Bishop Tobin, Bishop Evans, my family and friends, and to all those who have prayed for me and supported me — I truly would not be here today as a priest without you. Please pray for more vocations to the priesthood, especially in the Diocese of Providence.
Father Mark Gadoury was ordained by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on June 4. He serves as assistant pastor at St. Luke Parish and Holy Angels Parish, Barrington.
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