This Gracious Act | Sunday Reflection | 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Saint John's Seminary
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This Gracious Act | Sunday Reflection | 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 29, 2024

Recently, at a meeting with some of my classmates from the seminary, all of us newly ordained, we were asked to share stories from our first days of sacred ministry in the parish. For my part, I mentioned the story about my pastor’s predecessor that I heard shortly after arriving at St. Oscar Romero parish. He died suddenly in the narthex of our church on Good Shepherd Sunday (the fourth Sunday of Easter) as he was vested for Mass and preparing to process to the altar. The death of someone whom we love cannot but be a great loss; as we hear in the first reading, “God did not make death” (Wis 1:13); yet Father McLellan’s story is also for me a sign of perseverance in a vocation and of God’s faithfulness to those whom He calls. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6, ESV).

As my classmates also shared their own stories, several mentioned their experiences of God’s grace and mercy in celebrating the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. They described the special blessing that it is to be “another Christ” for our brothers and sisters in that way. It is not something for us to take for granted. Even in today’s Gospel, Jesus only permitted “Peter, James, and John, the brother of James” to accompany Him inside the house of the synagogue official where he raised the little girl (Mk 5:37). In the Sacrament of the Sick, it is Jesus Himself who is working in His minister to free us from hidden faults and the remnants of sin, and to reinvigorate the soul and even sometimes the body. My classmates told different stories of how they too were touched by the love of Jesus as they brought Jesus’ healing touch to those in need of it.

We rejoice today with the Dioceses of Portland, Providence, and Rochester over the priestly ordinations of SJS alumni Fathers Matthew Valles, Jairon Olmos Rivera, and James Muscatella. Through your partnership in the mission of the Priestly Formation program at Saint John’s Seminary, you stand together with priests throughout New England and the wider Church as they bring Jesus’ redeeming love to the world by word and sacrament. Because of your support of the Seminary, seminarians responding to the Lord’s call receive the means they need to grow into their vocation of service in the Church according to the heart of Jesus. Your own example of generosity helps seminarians learn to imitate “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 8:9), who gave Himself totally to His people. Please remember all newly ordained priests in your prayers.

By: Fr. Jeremy Wagner, Class of 2024

Like many seniors in college, Father Jeremy Wagner was figuring out his future.

Father Wagner attended Brown University, studying classics and material science. He grew up in a devout Baptist family in rural Connecticut, but when he went to college, he became a Presbyterian.

"I was a committed Christian," Father Wagner, 32, said, "but I didn't have a strong denominational self-identity."