by Parish Staff
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Risen Christ be with you!
As the 49th anniversary of my priestly ordination approaches on May 9th, I find myself reflecting on my priesthood while wondering why the Good Lord instilled in my heart the desire to serve Him as a Roman Catholic priest. In the scriptures we read that it is from our mother’s womb that He calls us. It is up to us to discover what it is that we called to do with our life. Since He gave us a free will, we know that He will not force His will on us. It is completely up to us to decide and to choose what we want to do in this life. Now that is truly an act of love on God’s part! We have to remember that we only find true joy when we do His will.
You may remember from some of my earlier letters in the bulletin and from my many sermons that I was not baptized a Catholic as an infant. In fact, my parents were not even married in the Church when I was born. My mother was Catholic, but my father was not. He was attending the Methodist Church following the example of his mother. They had eloped and were married civilly by the justice of the peace. As a kid, I remember attending the Catholic Church every once in a while since my mother did not at that time attend regularly. I also participated in the Methodist Church and at times in the Presbyterian Church. Since the Methodist church was across the street from the public school, I would frequently take part in programs that were offered during the week. During the first seven years of my life, I had no idea what a Catholic priest did!
In the second grade, while in public school in Aransas Pass, I was assigned to a home room which by chance, or maybe by God’s design, had a teacher who was Catholic. She also taught CCD class one day a week at the local Catholic Church. Don’t ask me why, but somehow she got me, as well as my brother and sister, interested in attending the Catholic church. It was at this time that I received the Sacrament of Baptism. Remember, that the Protestant churches did not practice infant baptism, thus I was never baptized until I was baptized in the Catholic Church.
In the third grade, I had a teacher who had been a Sister of the Incarnate Word of Charity in San Antonio. Her name was Cora Lee Meskill. She was the instrument that God used to plant the seed of having a priestly vocation. However, at that age, I did not think much about it. Remember that a seed has to die in the ground in order to give life and grow. From the third grade to the ninth grade, I really wanted to be a math teacher and had not really thought much about being a priest. After all, why would God want someone like me to be a Catholic priest?
Around this time, my father converted and was baptized a Catholic on an Easter Sunday, and my parents were married by the church.
While in the tenth grade, my pastor was Father Gregory Boensch, and the assistant pastor was Father Pat Doherty, a young Irish priest. They had me serving Mass and began to seriously talk to me about going to the seminary to find out if I truly had a vocation to the priesthood. With their help I begin to seriously pray and think about a priestly vocation.
After facing much opposition from my father, he and my mother finally agreed that I could go to the new Corpus Christi Minor Seminary (now St. John Paul II High School) that was due to open the next school year. So my seminary training began. With the help of my various spiritual directors and faculty members, my discerning process as to whether the Lord was calling me to the priesthood lasted for the next ten years. But even then I was not sure. On the morning of my ordination, May 9, 1970, I almost backed out thinking that I was not worthy to be a priest. My spiritual director at that time, Father Vicente de la Rosa, was the final instrument that the Lord used to get me to the altar. I remember clearly what he told me – “Larry, you are not worthy, none of us are, but it is the Lord who calls. We just answer His call.” Having said that, I walked down the isle of Corpus Christi Cathedral and Bishop Thomas Drury ordained me a priest.
Now 49 years later, I retell my story hoping that those of you that the Lord is calling to the priesthood or to consecrated life as a religious sister and are fearful may put their trust in the Lord. You should never forget that He has called you from your mother’s womb, and that He will give you the grace to overcome your fear if you but reach out and take His hand and let Him guide you. We do not choose to be priests, deacons or religious sisters. We just respond to His call and trust.
I have been here at SSCM parish for more than half of these 49 years. You know well my strengths, my weaknesses, and my many shortcomings. In spite of it all, I still wonder at times why the Lord chose me, unworthy as I am.
My prayer is that many more of you will listen to the voice of the Lord and say yes to His call. If you think that the Lord is calling you to be a priest, deacon or religious sister, you owe it to yourself to seek out this special calling – vocation. If the Lord is not calling you, He will let you know somewhere along your journey. There is no shame in entering a seminary or convent to seek what may be your calling. There is shame in not having the courage to seek and learn what is the will of God for you.
The Church needs more priests and religious sisters to guide and walk with people on their journey through life. You may just be that future priest or sister.
Pray that more young people will trust in the Lord and say yes to the calling that He is giving them. Next Sunday is World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We should pray our vocation prayer frequently.
I love you,