I still remember the day, when I got the letter from my friend Alwin which said that we were both selected to go to Boston for our theological studies. I did not have enough time to say goodbye to friends and family. But that is what a priestly ministry. A Priest’s life is not his own. I have been in priestly formation for eleven years. Throughout these many years I have felt the guidance of Our Lord in my formation. I gratefully remember all the formators and faculty at Saint John’s Seminary and back home in India. I thank my parents and brother and all other relatives who encouraged me along the way. Without their sacrifices, prayers, and encouragement, I would not have completed this great journey. There were a lot of difficulties along the way. In those difficult moments, I put all my trust in front of God and continued on the way. When I look back after my ordination, those difficulties, I came across were nothing. I would like to tell this to seminarians – my fellow travelers: No matter how big your difficulties are, the gift of Priesthood is bigger than that. So, persevere in the journey.
In my first interview when my bishop asked why I want to become a priest, without hesitation, I answered I would like to preach Jesus to the people. Since then, my life is shaped according to the will of Jesus. I was sent to another corner of the world from my home in India. My parents and loved ones could not join me on the happiest days of my life. I have lost a few loved ones as well. Besides all these difficulties I still possess the joy of following the Gospel. “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.” (Lk 14: 26,27) “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12: 48-50) My parents and others miss my physical presence with them but by celebrating the most holy sacrifice of the Mass we are all united spiritually. I am looking forward to beginning my assignment at St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare in Braintree.
I would like to thank St. Ambrose and St. Mark Collaborative, Dorchester for all the support and solidarity this community has shown me for the past two years. I also ask you all to pray for me as I begin my life of ministry as a priest.
Reflection by: Fr. Valanarasu Newton-Williamraj, Diocese of Kumbakonam, India