Gratitude for Family
The Feast day of the Holy Family is one of my favorite days to celebrate. There is just so much to meditate on this day. I find myself enthralled thinking about what the life of the Holy Family was like in that hidden town of Nazareth. I think of my own family and how we can imitate Mary, Joseph, and Jesus more fully each day. This year, I found myself surprised by a new meditation I had not experienced before: gratitude for my spiritual family of St. Dominic.
When I was growing up my family went to Mass at the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee. The beauty of that building continues to inspire my heart to become a majestic dwelling place for God. As commuters however, I never felt at home. My family and I would show up for Mass on Sunday and leave right away, rarely were we there during the week. Because of this, I never felt part of the family of the Basilica community, there were people I connected with for sure, but I was more attached to the building than the people.
From my first days at St. Dominic, I encountered a different experience. Each one of you welcomed me more than with a simple hello, you welcomed me into your family. This has not been my experience only, many new parishioners mention that it is the family atmosphere at St. Dominic which led them to join. I have learned in my short 2 1/2 years here that St. Dominic is much more than a building, it truly is a family.
It is a family I am most grateful for. In my early years of priesthood you have raised me with love and support and have helped me grow as a priest in all avenues of my life. You have invited me into the joys and sorrows of your life and I have felt each within my own heart. While Brookfield may not be as quiet as Nazareth, you have shown me glimpses of the Holy Family with your joy, faith, hope, perseverance in trial, trust in God, and most felt by myself, love.
On this feast day of the Holy Family, my heart is full of gratitude for you, my family of St. Dominic. You will never know the full impact you have on your priests and I hope you know how much you are loved by Fr. Dennis and myself. Thank you for your imitation of the Holy Family and for filling my heart with joy and thanksgiving to be a part of this incredible community.
It may sound strange coming from a 29-year-old young man who has only been a priest for under 3 years, (it does to me) but I am proud and humbled to be called father of this family, my family, the family of St. Dominic.
May the Holy Family continue to guide us all to be more like them each and everyday.