Sunday Reflection: Rev. David Barnes, Director of Spiritual Formation
The other day during Mass on the Memorial of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, I prayed for the repose of the soul of another Cornelius, Fr. Neil Heery. He was the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in North Quincy when I was growing up. Fr. Heery's ministry and example--even a quarter century after his death—continues to be fruitful in the Church. Among other things, he was a great influencer of priestly vocations. As a boy, I would often serve Mass for Fr. Heery and would find him every afternoon in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel of our parish.
As I prayed for Fr. Heery in Saint John's Chapel, I thought about how it was in this same chapel that his priestly vocation was nourished and protected. Somewhere among the pews of this seminary chapel—in the midst of his brothers—he grew in friendship with the Lord and was prepared to become a father and shepherd of souls. The time Fr. Heery spent in this seminary was a privileged time of prayer, study, formation, and fraternity. From this very special place, he was sent out to work in the Lord's vineyard where he would labor tirelessly until his very last breath.
Today in the pews of Saint John's Seminary Chapel there are still men who will one day be great priests. Like so many of those who have filled these pews over the years, they are being formed by the Lord. They are learning to become ardent, yet gentle shepherds after the heart of Christ. They want to spend their lives in service to their brothers and sisters.
This week I felt a deep gratitude to the Lord for the ways that He used Saint John's Seminary to form the priests who have served me over the years as my parish priests, chaplains, teachers, and confessors. I am also grateful for the years that I spent here as a seminarian, receiving my own priestly formation. Lastly, I am grateful for the seminarians who are here now. They are a sign of great hope for the Church. They will only be here for a relatively short period of time, and then they will be the parish priests for a new generation of Catholics.
I hope that someday, many years from now, a former altar boy of theirs recalls with gratitude their priestly ministry and prays for them at the altar in Saint John's Seminary Chapel.