THE GOLDEN YEARS

FATHER ROGER'S REFLECTIONS

Favorite Memories Of Being A Priest

 - There is a special thrill about seeing the dream of your youth brought to fruition on the day of your ordination and in every work and word you prepare  and share in service to the Church for the rest of your life. It is like reliving the dream over and over again in minute doses.   

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- Fr. Dickinson was my first teacher in the ways of ministry.  He was a super person with great enthusiasm and a real sense of organization.  I learned much from him and remember him as my first true priestly friend.

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- Because contemplative prayer has been part of my developing spirituality in the early years of my priesthood, I found the contemplation and action were far from being two opposite sources of ministry, but that each fed the other. Contemplation leads to action and action feeds the foundations for contemplation. 

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- Directing the choir at Sacred Heart in North Attleboro and St. Joseph, New Bedford, was one of my happy moments. The trick at times was to celebrate the Mass, lead the Altar Servers and conduct the choir all at the same time, especially during the Holy Week ceremonies.

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- Both at St. Joseph Church and in my first pastorate, the charismatic contribution to spirituality fed my priestly ministry and the two came to a high point in two separate ways.  First, at St. Joseph's Church the Charistmatic joined the Cursillistas and the Children of Mary in helping contribute spiritual growth to the parish and that was very effective to the unity of prayer among them.  Secondly, the Sacred heart Community bonded the Charismatic prayer approach with the weekly Eucharistic Adoration and brought both moments of prayer to a high point in spiritual renewal of the praying community.

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- Always did I look forward to Springtimes at Sacred Heart, North Attleboro and at St. George in Westport, while I was a pastor there.  I enjoyed working in the flower garden as a form of fruitful prayerful activity.

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- Although I am happy it is all over for me, I liked shoveling the snow in the winter to help the janitors and then come back into the warm house and be warmed with a fine cocktail to sooth and relax me. 

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- I loved the challenge of organizing.  I specially remember my first attempt at creating a new organization in the CYAO in the Attleboro Deanery.

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- Parish council and, more specifically, pastoral councils were fun to work with.

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- One of my happy moments was composing guidelines, job descriptions and parish visions for the people I served. St. George Church was the place where I was able to most significantly coordinate the guidelines for parish workers, organizations and volunteers.

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- Singing the Exultet at the Easter Vigil service was always a graced moment for me ever since I first heard the Exultet in the seminary at St. Mary's in Baltimore.

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- Counting the weekend collection was not a favorite moment, although I did it for 43 years.  Yet, as I look back at it, I remember the many moments of joyous fraternity with other money counters during the hours of performing that service.  I am grateful to all those who shared in that Sunday work for the sake of the community. Parishes seldom realize the time and sacrifice put into this work. 

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- Liturgy has always been extremely important to me.  I was happy to direct the liturgy in every parish I served.  I specially continue to love the Holy Week liturgies and being part of the enablement is a treasure to me.

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- Spiritual counseling has always been a special love in my heart.  I always enjoy seeing and hearing what the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of those who seek God.

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- Visiting the sick left many wonderful moments in my memory.  I can still remember so many of the home communicants and their joy in receiving the priest.  I guess that special love comes from the fact that my mother was ill for many years and enjoyed receiving communion at home. Later she was overjoyed to have me offer Mass weekly with her in our home on my day off.

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- The opportunity to share a camping experience in a local campground and the joy of offering weekly Mass on Saturday evenings at that campground for the Catholic campers was a special treat for which I am ever grateful. On the fourth of July we used firecrackers instead of bells at the Consecration. The communicants remained devout through it all and appreciated the timely adaptation.

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- Of course, the opportunity to decorate church and rectories for Christmas time was always a welcome challenge.  Being creative is a major factor in a priest's life.

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- A moment of pride stepped in when I began to use the computer and slowly introduced myself to computerized financial programs for the parish beginning in 1988 and ending with my present enjoyment of working with digital photography programs to enhance photos and produce materials for parish and for sale.  Would you believe it cut my work load down by two days each month?

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- The older I get, the more I am happy that I had the opportunity of knowing and using a second language in my French heritage.  I miss speaking French these days and miss mostly the ability to share light moments with expressions that can only hold laughter in the spirit of the French culture. My dad used to say: losing one's French language is losing one's faith.  I understand the meaning of the faith heritage in the French culture, but I have met many good Frenchmen who are devout but can no longer speak French.  I still enjoy that facility and love to use it when I can. 

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- Home Faith Demonstrations was an effort to bring religious education into the home by offering a Mass in private homes with attending guests who would then share an evening of faith inquiry discussions.

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- It was also quite exciting to have Masses in such informal environments and parish picnic grounds, small group retreats, and especially in the hospital room just before my mother died.  In this last situation, the joy on the face of my mother when she knew I was going to offer Mass was very rewarding. 

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- I always remember the priesthood as the greatest love of my life.  Even the more difficult works of priestly life seemed less difficult for knowing that I was a priest called to share the grace of God with other souls.

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- The people I most hold to my heart are the hundreds who worked hard daily and weekly to assist in parish work.  Shared ministry in parish life is most fulfilling and rewarding.  I remember and miss many of those with whom I shared service to the community of faith. 

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 - Being the only priest in a parish was a challenge, but at the same time it was productive to much creativity and satisfaction. 

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- The "Parish Life Retreats" spent with multiple parish groups in two of  my parishes brought another dimension to my priestly work that I shall never forget.  Watching hearts warming to God in just a three day retreat was most exhilarating.

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- Preparing homilies has been one of the best opportunities and instruments for my own priestly spirituality.

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- Walking around the parish property in Somerset, especially while reading the breviary was one of the most relaxing experiences of my journey.  It was a very quieting environment to live in with a proper atmosphere for prayer.

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- Peace and silence have been my best spiritual companions in the priesthood.

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- The highlight of retirement from pastorship is the freedom found in my present parish where pastor and people are so supportive and tender to my senior journey.

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- The people who had least compassion for me are the ones who most taught me how to be merciful and compassionate to others.

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- In the priesthood, you always find the many who depend on your care, but the few who remain when you are in need reveal the treasure of God's special friendship.

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- In my experience as director of three Catholic schools, I will always the treasure the wonderful principals who worked with professional quality and receptivity to the director's contributions to school life.

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- Transition was a great part of my priestly experience: transition which came from the Second Vatican Council in liturgy, in ministry and in pastoral vision; transition from traditional piety to deepening spirituality in the Church; transition from serving with other priests to serving alone; transition from "putting the priest on the pedestal" to charging the priest with the dis-ease and dissatisfaction concerning a changing Church; transition from  shepherding as a leader to working with councils. These are but a few of the many changes that have been taking place in the last half century of the priests' life in ministry.

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The best fundraising program I have ever worked with is the money clubs established in my last two parishes.  It proved to be a wonderful source to strengthen and intensify the spirit of community on a social level empowering a better spirit of fraternity among the members. The enablers of the clubs worked like a true team.

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