I Will Not Leave You Orphans — Celebrating 36 Years of Priesthood

May 17, 2020

In today’s Gospel Jesus is preparing His followers.  He tells them of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, a spirit of truth who He will give them.  All of this is a message to their hearts that soon the Ascension would happen and their life would be changed forever.  At the Ascension they would be sent out to baptize the world, to spread the Good News of forgiveness and new life.  It was a powerful time of expectation and anticipation as they waited for the Holy Spirit.

As I experience my Anniversary of Ordination on the 18th of May, I do so with great hope and with great anticipation.  Soon we will reopen the doors of the church for in-person celebrations of the Sacraments.  We will welcome in a safe and restricted way those who are able to return.  My heart looks so forward to that time; it is a deep longing for me.  These words of the Lord speak to me this year more than they ever have.  He will not leave us orphans or abandoned.  Heroic stories become the backdrop of my anniversary this year. Incredible pain has been thrust on our earth, yet healing has found a way.  Uncertainty has reached epic proportions, yet faith is still alive.  We continue to forge new ways and what the new normal will be continues to be a consistent part of conversations.  What I have known since the day of my ordination still rings true; my life has a purpose and a meaning most profoundly when I am living it for others as a sacrifice for them.  This is the core of all vocations, parenting, single life, holy life.  Being a child of God it is not exclusive to just priests.  From the washing of feet to the Breaking of Bread; from the feeding of the multitude to the whisper that your sins are forgiven, the plan has been played out for all of us.  This year in the quiet of a chapel at dawn I will celebrate Eucharist because it is my greatest joy.  This Lord will remind me I am not orphaned, nor will I ever be.  To me there is no greater joy than this:  to know we are not alone.  I rely on this strength.  I believe in these words and the promise of what they mean.  It has been a year like no other.  Because it is like no other, it is a time we can cherish and never let go of what it is to teach us.

I thank you for your love and support.  I thank you for your commitment to the faith.  It inspires and humbles me.  I thank you for your trust in who we are as a parish.  God is about glorious things in us.  Just as He prepared His disciples for the new normal by telling them of the Holy Spirit, so He tells all of us that we are not orphans.  The Spirit of truth will walk with us and we are to journey forward, bringing the Good News to all the ends of the earth.  As for me, I will cherish this invitation, this time of anticipation and expectation.

As the journey continues, may it find us in prayer for one another.

Father John J. Ouper