This evening, the Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest, who are such an integral part of our community life here at the Paulist Motherhouse, hosted a celebration for the Paulist Fathers to mark the conclusion of this “Year for Priests.” Like everything the Sisters do, the celebration was meticulously planned and executed – even to the photographs displayed in the dining room.
We began, of course, with Mass in our beautiful House Chapel. Basing himself on today’s Gospel about the Sadducees’ challenge to Jesus about the resurrection (Mark 12:18-27), our new Paulist President, Michael McGarry, focused on Jesus’ response about God being a God of the living, linking that to the theme of priestly witness to a God who is God of the living and to the spirit of gratitude which must characterize our priestly life and ministry.
Then we had a wonderful dinner with the Sisters and other guests, complete with mariachi music!
Priestly fraternity takes many forms and is experienced in different ways in different places at different times. One particular experience of priestly fraternity, which I have enjoyed now for almost 10 years (and which I am about to leave behind as I prepare to move to a new assignment), has been our common life at the Paulist Motherhouse. The 59th Street House (as it has traditionally been known) is, of course, a “rectory” for those of us engaged in the ministry of the parish. But for all of the 25 or so Paulists who live here at any given time it is our home. By extension, it is also “home” for all other Paulists, who may return here to visit, much as family members may on occasion return to visit the family home. I remember how, when I was stationed in Toronto, I sort of felt that way when I would be back visiting at 59th Street. This was so even though at that time my parents still lived in the NYC area, and their house functioned recognizably as a central family home for me and my two sisters. With my mother and surviving sister and her family all on the West Coast now, 59th Street will likely emerge even more as that one special place to come home to.