This year, I think, marks as one of the most enjoyable of my years in formation – and hopefully all the other students agree with me. Yesterday we were reflecting back over all the great experiences that each of us have had and today is really about giving thanks to everyone here and to all those in the parishes that we have been placed in for the past 7 months or so.
When I was back at home last week on our midterm break, I picked up one of my father’s books – it was on the Eucharist by Fr Robert Baron and he began by talking about formation and that in this age of information there is a greater need and call for all of us to transformation. I feel this is in tune with St Paul, as we heard in our scripture reading (Rom 12: 1 – 8) of not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds – and for each of the students here on the pastoral course this year our minds have been renewed and transformed.
We’ve all seen the various and the many members of the parishes and perhaps as we finish our placements we can acknowledge the oneness that are called to belong to – the oneness that we are transformed into by the presence of God – the oneness that we are in the one body in Christ Our Lord.
As the psalm notes (Psalm 63 1: 1 – 8) we seek God, our bodies pine for him and our souls thirst for him – whilst maybe we bring Jesus in the Eucharist to the sick and the house bound on our first Friday calls, we have also realised and shared that as we were sent out in September we did so to seek God and to do so in everyone we meet – the countless stories of our encounters with those in the Church, those who came to the parish house or parish centre for whatever reason; those in the schools and even those that recognised us in the streets – all these people and many more bear witness to our encounter with God this year.
Perhaps I could finish with a little something on the Year of Consecrated Life – not just because I belong to a religious community, but more so, as Fr Liam the parish priest of St Patrick’s Corduff has said, because in Baptism we have all been consecrated to God. The logo for this Year of Consecrated Life see the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters of life with 3 words also: Gospel, Prophecy and Hope.
As we come together in this one body let us preach the Gospel strongly by the lived witness we have seen in our parishes and hopefully as we have witnessed to ourselves. Let us be prophets of God’s love to everyone so that all may experience this love; and let us be beacons of hope – hope for today and hope for the day when Christ comes again. Amen.