A Young Priest's Reflection

Written by Father Joshua Swallows  

More than any other experience I have ever had, my ordination to the priesthood is difficult to express using words. The whole event was exhilarating, joyful, peaceful, and incredibly humbling. There were several moments during the Mass that I will treasure.

The first of these was directly following the Election of the Candidates in which my classmate Chris and I had our names called and were then brought into the sanctuary. It was there that we sat and listened to the homily from our bishop, directed to us. I remember thinking that just like the early disciples would have gathered around the Apostles and received instructions on the Faith, here we were, being guided by our Apostle.

The next moment that stands out was lying prostrate during the Litany of Saints. Here the entire Church prayed for us, both the Church of Orlando and all the Saints! It was amazing to realize that while I lay there desiring to offer myself to the Church, the Body of Christ, that the whole Body of Christ was praying for me. I remember thinking during this time and after the Litany as the Bishop prayed over us that, “The Lord is forming a priestly character in my heart right now…”

Lastly, there were two very emotional moments for me during the Ordination. The first was directly following the Ordination Rite in which Chris (now Fr. Chris) and I, now vested, were led behind the altar, now facing the people for the first time, and I now saw the faces of so many people who had prayed for me and supported me throughout my entire journey, all leading up to this moment. The second was at the end of Mass giving my family a blessing. In both of these moments, I was overwhelmed by just how blessed I was to have this kind of love in my life.

I would also like to share just one thought on my first few weeks of priesthood. Whether it be standing before the altar offering the Mass, hearing confessions, or anointing the sick, these have all been the most humbling experiences I have ever had. Ultimately, Jesus Christ is the true priest. It is Jesus who offers the Eucharist and Jesus who forgives sins. And yet I now participate in that priesthood. Christ uses me to bless and take care of his people. What a privilege! The priesthood is truly an awesome calling, in every sense of the word.

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