Witnessing Grace | Reflection by Mr. Peter Schirripa

July 20, 2021

“May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”


Everything we do at Saint John’s Seminary, from our study, to our recreation, is designed to prepare men for two things. Namely, the glorification of God and the salvation of souls.

Without question, the parish is the place where seminarians see the importance of this twofold mission. For this reason, every seminarian spends his summer working in a parish for eight to ten weeks. While in the parish, we get a glimpse of just how much time, work, and prayer it takes to make our parishes run. But more importantly, we get a chance to witness firsthand how God uses His priests to get people to heaven.

I have had the privilege to spend my summer with Father Michael Harrington at Saint Mary’s of the Annunciation in Cambridge. In addition to helping Father Michael with tasks around the parish, I have had the opportunity to witness God use Father Michael’s priesthood to save souls.

Just the other day, Father Michael and I rushed to the bedside of a dying man. Upon entering the house, I was surprised to see fifty people crying and huddled around the bed of a man who was clearly hours away from death. Father Michael gently moved his way through the crowd and stood before the dying man. As soon as Father Michael began the Rite of Anointing, all of the crying ceased and a sacred silence came over the room. With great anticipation, we all watched and waited for Jesus to act through the words and gestures of Father Michael. “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” At the sound of these words, words that by God’s grace open the gates of heaven, the man opened his eyes for the first time in weeks. His breathing became lighter and he was now ready to die.

As we exited the house and assured people of our prayers, I could not help but think of the power and the love of God. I had the privilege to witness Jesus prepare someone for eternal life. We must never forget that Jesus, the Divine Physician, does everything He can to reach us in our final moments. He even does this for our loved ones who have grown resistant to His grace. But, we must also never forget that He chooses to reach us and our wavering loved ones through His priests. Priests are essential to His plan. It is for this reason that Saint John’s Seminary needs your support. Saint John’s Seminary, with your help, is tasked with forming men committed to getting all of your loved ones to heaven, no matter how far they may have wandered. I am so grateful for your support. Without it, I would not have been able to live my summer parish experience. It is here at Saint Mary’s in Cambridge, under the guidance of Father Michael, that God has shown me the power and the importance of the priest’s twofold mission. Know of my prayers for you and for your families.


By: Mr. Peter Schirripa
3rd Theology
Archdiocese of Boston

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