I wanted to take an opportunity to share a word of profound gratitude to all who shared good wishes with me and with my family who have been visiting. A few weeks ago we celebrated a milestone in my own life, marking 25 years of priestly service. I completed my studies and formation at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland, and was ordained in June of 1994 for service in the church of Los Angeles. On the evening of June 29th last, many people joined family, friends and well-wishers to mark the occasion of that quarter of a century.
In truth, as I shared during my homily that evening, there have been wonderful times and there have been difficult times. There were occasions where I rose to the challenges of ministry and others when I failed to be all I could be. I was somewhat reluctant to celebrate all of that, but others around me encouraged it, and reminded me that no one lives a perfect life, but we celebrate the life that is ours to celebrate.
It was an occasion of grace and joy for me to have so many family and friends present here in Church with parishioners and ministry leaders of our parish community. Fifteen traveled from my home in the West of Ireland to be present, along with friends and colleagues from my different assignments over these past years. To gather together before the altar at which I constantly pray with and for our community here at Lourdes, was a blessed joy for me.
I am grateful to all who gathered in prayer that evening and to all of those who spent hours preparing for the different aspects of that evening. I know that the combined choirs worked hard in rehearsal to prepare wonderful music for our praise and worship. I know that all our various liturgical leaders and ministers stepped up to go above and beyond to make the liturgy so meaningful and prayerful. To God be all praise!
Thank you to all who prepared the reception in the hall afterwards. The food and beverages provided a great opportunity for people to continue to gather and engage with one another, with beautiful music and environment transforming Stroup Hall into a wonderful place of encounter between friends old and new.
I appreciate all who approached me and shared words of gratitude, encouragement and prayer with me. Your thoughtfulness and your care were a gift to my heart and soul.
My thanks to all who wrote words in letters and in cards. Thank you also to those many people who generously shared gifts with me and with my family. The welcome and the hospitality that was experienced by my family and friends who traveled to be here is humbling in the extreme for me. I can only hope to emulate such warmth and welcome in the living of my own life. Thank you.
Thank you to all who were present, and also to all who shared their regret at not being able to be present. I was overwhelmed by the care and goodness that was shared with me by all, even in the midst of the crowds and busyness of the evening.
May God continue to richly bless all who shared so freely and wonderfully of their own blessings. May your days open before you filled with possibility and promise. May the close of your days be graced with a sense of fulfilment and goodness. May night come to you with blessing and renewal for body and soul. May God enfold you all in light and peace.