still living and celebrating fortieth

19 Mar

In May each year there is an anniversary dinner that gathers all the priests of the Archdiocese, at which priests of 25, 40 and 50 years are recognized. A booklet is printed with photos, facts and memories of the jubilarians. I was asked to submit a photo and some words of remembering. I am anxious to see if what I sent will be printed or edited. With my thoughts I sent my ordination picture.

oridnation picture

Fifty years ago 54 of us 16 year old kids, most of us studying for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, entered St. Gregory Seminary High School as juniors. Forty-two of us graduated from the high school in 1967. Of these, six of us were ordained priests in 1975 for Cincinnati. Only Bob Schmitz (currently the pastor of Good Shepherd parish) and I are still living and celebrating our fortieth anniversary of ordination and fiftieth year of entrance into seminary.

Some of the pastors with whom we lived in those first days, the “old” guys, were puzzled that we priests ordained in the 70s insisted on being called by our first names, didn’t wear cassocks and brought with us a different style of vestments for Mass. As much as I called my first pastor by his first name, he always called me “Father,” except for two times in the fourteen months in his house when he called me by my first name, once getting it wrong. Some of us “young” guys were pretty convinced upon ordination that we knew what was best for the Church, and that, as soon as the “old” guys got out of the way, we could make it happen. Some of the “old” guys were wondering what “they” were doing in the seminary to create this new breed of priests, and were miffed over what these new fellows were doing to “our” Church.

Well, forty years later, I am one of the old guys, and see in the young guys a lot of myself.

It is sobering, and calming actually, for me to remember that the Church does not belong to any of us. We are simply the tenant farmers in Christ’s vineyard and stewards of Christ’s harvest, trying our best, each of us, not to get in His way and not to mess up what He is trying to do, admitting that each of us has gotten (and will get) in His way and has messed up (and will mess up) some things. His Church will go on with us, without us, because of us and in spite of us.

Christ gave us the assurance long ago that He would be with His Church always, through 1975 and still in 2015 until the end of time.

Francis gives us the courage and the inspiration now to get out of the sacristy and into the streets, not to be self-referential or narcissistic, but to take on the smell of the sheep, His sheep.

Ad multos annos!

Along with these words and that ordination photo, I sent another photo. This one has less chance of getting printed in the banquet program. It would be more fun, but it is less likely.

Frozen Princesses 01 Fr_Rob+Frozen_Princesses_396_St_A_Wntrfst2014_Cmprsd - Copy


3 Responses to “still living and celebrating fortieth”

  1. Linda Turner March 19, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    Congratulations on your 40th and for still being alive! Wishing you many more anniversaries to come! Lin (Schoenbaechler) Turner, McAuley ’79

  2. Char March 19, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Happy Anniversary, and gratitude for all you’ve done and will continue to do!! It is authentic Christ-like priests (and Jesus was the greatest innovator of all time and continues to be), like you who keep a lot of us in the church structure!! We know we can work anywhere in the world, but are called to community, thank God!!

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