The priesthood is God’s gift to us
June 10, 2022
During the month of June, most of the priests in our archdiocese celebrate the anniversary of their priestly ordination. Typically, the Archdiocese of Omaha holds priestly ordinations on the first Saturday of June. This year, I celebrate the sixth anniversary of my priestly ordination together with my five classmates. On June 4, 2022, we proudly celebrated the priestly ordination of two new priests for our archdiocese. Today, I would like to consider the gift and the significance of the Catholic priesthood.
I remember the first few weeks after my ordination. I kept staring at my hands. Reflecting on the amazing things I could now do. An artist’s hands create beautiful works, a pianist’s hands can play Mozart, a doctor’s hands can heal and save lives, the hands of a chef can make delicious food. Yet, in all these things, the work of their hands is because of their own skills and abilities.
As I look at my hands, I realize they have the power to bring Christ to his people and forgive sins, and it is through no work or skill of mine, or any other person, but through a complete gift from Christ himself.
It is under this lens, that I, as a priest, am appropriately called “Father.” Through Christ’s graciousness my very person is used to not just point to God the Father, but to serve as an instrument to bring his grace, providing nourishment for God’s children.
I can recall the first time I gave Last Rites and stayed at the bedside with the family as their husband and father passed. There was a real heaviness. I studied computers before entering seminary and have the mind of an engineer or programming debugger, “There has to be something I can do to fix this.”
Yet, there I was, and the only thing I had to give was what Christ had left us – the ability to forgive sins at those last moments of life, the power to say and make true the words: “Go forth Christian soul from this world.” The reality is that God chose through the priesthood to not leave his children orphans, but to remain with them and be united with them in their suffering and death.
I want to make one last reflection, in hope that a young man questioning or doubting a call to the priesthood may read this. If you fear that you do not have the gifts or abilities, the strength or the discipline to follow this call, fear not: it is not your hands, but his that do the work of salvation.
Father Joseph Sund is associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in O’Neill, St. Joseph Parish in Amelia, Sacred Heart Parish in Boyd County, St. Boniface Parish in Stuart and St. Joseph Parish in Atkinson.