Today is officially the final day of the Pope's Year for Priests. For the Parish of Elland, an appropriate time to reflect on some Anniversaries of Ordination. Fr Laurence has just marked 57 years in the priesthood, Fr Michael 47 years. Together with it being some 21 years since my own priesting, this weekend marks 3 years since Fr Philip was ordained, and, I suppose, the end of his Curacy, though as he is a 'self-supporting priest', we are delighted that his future ministry continues to be with us. It is good to remember also in our prayers, Fr John Leonard, of St Patrick's RC Church in Elland, who has just marked his Golden Jubilee.
We look forward to next weekend: on Saturday, Fr Matthew will be ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Stephen in Wakefield Cathedral, and will celebrate his First Mass next Sunday, at 4pm in All Saints, at which the preacher will be his mother, The Rev'd Susan Askey. We will pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon his priestly ministry, and upon us all, that we may be renewed as faithful Christian Disciples of Our Lord.
In a Homily to mark the conclusion of the Year, Pope Benedict has reminded us of St John Vianney, the Cure d'Ars, Patron of Priests. He has reminded us also that the year must mark a renewing and a purity in priestly life. At the end of a difficult year in the light of ongoing abuse scandals, and the continual revealings of deep divisions in the life of the Church, surely all can aspire to that.
A few years ago, Mayhews published a series of little books by Fr Graham Jeffery, intended to be a priest's encouragement and companion. From time to time I return to them, for he is simply one of those priests with the ability to find a few words, to say all that needs to be said. In thanksgiving for the gift of Priesthood, but with a deep sense as well of my own inadequacy, I pray
Help me to remember your agenda Lord,
Not the building up of your church,
but the building of your Kingdom.
Not the spreading of our faith,
but the spreading of your faith in us,
not the deepening of the sense of our guilt,
but the deepening of the sense of your love,
each of us so precious to your Kingdom.