WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN LIFE
People once told me that the most important day of my life will be my priestly ordination. They are spot on except that it was also an important day for everyone not just for me. When a man is ordained he does not live for himself rather he is called to lay down his life for his friends. Without his friends, he has no one to lay down his life for. It is in this context that the ordination of a man has importance for everyone. He becomes “a man for others.”
As I write this reflection, I am approaching my first one hundred days as a priest. Time seems to move so quickly when doing the will of God. I feel like it was only yesterday that Archbishop Anthony Fisher preached “a priest must remember that it’s all about Christ and His people, not us.” Beyond a face that tells of my Vietnamese background, my faith and my joyful Franciscan vocation, I would like everyone to see in me the priesthood of Jesus Christ
As of Friday night, 24 February 2017, I was no longer just “John” rather “Father John,” a man who has stepped down in all aspects of life to serve with a sacrificial love imitating the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. God has been calling me to this way of life for a very long time and finally I answered His call to serve Him and His people. I am to imitate Christ who came to serve and not to be served. I have been called to be a man of God, not speak my words or act my ways but allow God to speak through me and use my whole being, thus making God present at every moment. I am called to love.
Anyone who knows me would be aware that I am one of the weakest people around. Relying on my own strength, I can only archive so much, whereas with the help of God, I have become the man I am today. God has been working through my life through various ways: through the Sacraments, all those accompanying me in the journey of life, and the events in my past. I am sure He has been working in overdrive the past one hundred days of my priesthood.
FIRST 100 DAYS
I am blessed to celebrate daily Mass and to nourish the South Brisbane, West End, Dutton Park and Fairfield parishioners with the Word of God, and His Body and Blood. To absolve penitents alleviating them from their sins, to baptise babies and welcome them as a new member of the Church; to teach children preparing for confirmation about the Holy Spirit and His Gifts and Fruit. To prepare couples for their lifelong commitment in the Sacrament of Marriage and to witness their exchange of vows.
As the chaplain for Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, I am blessed to anoint sick children, and bring comfort and hope to parents in despair. I am blessed to represent the Church when no one else can, and pray for and with the dying emphasising the Lord’s promise of eternal life.
I am blessed to be surrounded by other religious who dedicate their lives serving God and encouraging me to respond to my Franciscan charism as a priest. To be surrounded by great seminarians who ask for my prayers in their discernment, and by good deacons, priests and bishops who share their priesthood and inspire me to do the same.
I receive more than I give in my priestly ministry because it is God who does the work. Nothing is impossible with the help of God. Everything He does bears much fruit.
My priestly ordination has blessed me with many opportunities to impart God’s blessing onto others. The priesthood is a beautiful life that encapsulates every intimate moment of a person’s life. It is no wonder that a priestly ordination is a time for celebration because without priests no one will bless God’s people with the Sacraments and make Christ present in a ministerial way. My priestly ordination is definitely important to me as it is for you because it is a God given gift that is meant to be shared.
For those young men out there, is God calling you to share your life by laying down your life for your friends as a priest?