07-31-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It’s hard to believe that this is the last column I will write for the bulletin in this parish. Over the past thirteen years I have used this space to share parish news, instruct you about the faith, and tell you about things going on in my life. Today, I write to say thanks.

First and foremost, I want to thank Almighty God for the gift of the priesthood. There are no words to adequately express how much this gift means to me. To take bread and wine in my hands at Mass each morning, and know that they become the precious Body and Blood of Christ, is an awesome and overwhelming experience. Indeed, offering Holy Mass for all of you has been both a privilege and joy, one that has sustained and strengthened my faith. I hope that attending and prayerfully participating in those Masses has blessed your faith, too.

Second, I want to thank all the people of this parish for their many kindnesses to me since I arrived in this parish. The statements of support, the kind words, and most of all, the many prayers offered are appreciated more than you know. Please keep praying that Hail Mary for me each day, and know that I will keep holding all of you in my prayers as well.

Third, I want to thank all the people who have worked with me in this parish over the years. Every priest that has been stationed here over the years has blessed my life in some way. The same is true for the deacons and sisters. The lay people who work in our office and school, and parish have been a support without whom I could never have done my job. Thanks to one and all.

Over the past weeks, many of you have heard me say that I’ve never had so much fun in a parish in my life – as I’ve had here at St. Philip and St. James. I mean this with all of my heart. Every parish I’ve been in over the years is a good parish, has good people, and has blessed me in some ways. But there was something about being here with all of you that brought me great joy. Again, thanks!

To the young men of our parish who are trying to figure out where they are headed in life, I say this: prayerfully consider whether God might be calling you to be a priest. The noise of our world can make it hard to hear His voice, deep within you. But if you find a quiet place to pray, especially a quite Church, before the Blessed Sacrament, and open yourself to His sacred presence, He can speak to your heart.

If you ever had the sense that He may be calling you to be a priest, you owe it to Him and yourself to consider it. Pray about it. Speak to a priest you trust about it. Find out if He is indeed calling you.

Because if He is, I can tell you that He will also help you answer that call and find the joy that I have in following Him. And who knows, maybe someday – like me and so many other priests over the years – you will know the awesome experience of celebrating Mass and holding Christ in your hands at the Altar, and of being blessed by serving the good people of a parish like St. Philip and St. James.

Have a great week!

Fr. John