September 29, 2010 // Local

Gift of priesthood celebrated with jubilarians

Jubilarian priests Father Patrick McNulty, Father Terry Fisher, Father Derrick Sneyd are shown with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and jubilarians Father Richard Hire, Msgr. Bernard Galic and Father Lawrence Kramer.

By Tim Johnson and Mark Weber

FORT WAYNE — Six priests, representing 245 years of priesthood and surrounded by brother priests, family and friends, concelebrated a jubilee Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Sept. 23.

Bishop Rhoades said in his homily Sept. 23, the memorial of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, after quoting St. Paul in Corinthians, “The choice to become a priest is a choice of love. And the Eucharist is the sacrament of love. It strengthens all of us to love as Christ loved, to give our lives for the sheep, for the Church, in imitation of Christ the Bridegroom who, as St. Paul wrote, loved the Church, His Bride, and gave Himself up for her.”

Priests honored were: For 25 years, Father Terry Fisher, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Mishawaka. For 40 years of priestly service, Msgr. Bernard Galic, pastor of St. Aloysius, Yoder; Father Richard Hire, pastor of St. Martin De Porres, Syracuse; and Father Derrick Sneyd, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Auburn. Honored for 50 years, Father Lawrence Kramer, pastor of St. Paul of the Cross, Columbia City; and Father Patrick McNulty, who is in ministry in Combermere, Ontario, Canada. Father McNulty traveled from Canada to celebrate with brother-priests at the jubilee Mass.

Bishop Rhoades said it was appropriate to celebrate the jubilee Mass on the feast of a priest-saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, a humble Capuchin friar from Italy who was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2002 in Rome.

“Today, as we remember St. Pio, his sanctity, his virtues, his spirit of prayer, and his total dedication to the good of souls,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We pray for our priests and their holiness. I say to our priest jubilarians and to all our priests — how awesome is the vocation we have received! Padre Pio teaches us how awesome it is and how to live our vocation to the full, filled with love of God and love for the Church.

“The pinnacle of Padre Pio’s apostolic activity was the celebration of the Holy Mass,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “The faithful who took part witnessed the summit and fullness of his spirituality. As Paul VI remarked, Padre Pio ‘said Mass humbly.’ Holy Mass is for us, as it was for Padre Pio, the heart of our day, the moment of our closest communion with Jesus, Priest and Victim. It is also where we discover most profoundly our priestly identity. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of Jesus we pronounce at the consecration, the sacrifice of the Cross, the full gift of Christ to the Church, becomes present. This amazing gift of Christ’s Body given and His Blood shed is the mystery of which we are the stewards Our life and ministry as priests finds its meaning in the Eucharist since our vocation and our call to holiness as priests is through imitation of Christ in His total gift of self to the Church. We are called to manifest the love of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep.

Bishop Rhoades said, “Padre Pio teaches priests to be docile and generous instruments of divine grace, the grace that brings healing to people and restores peace to their hearts. This happens in a very powerful way in the sacrament of Penance. Again, impelled by the love of Christ, Padre Pio heard confessions from dawn to dusk. He, like all priests, was given the ministry of Reconciliation, which St. Paul writes about in our first reading: “God reconciling the world to Himself in Christ.”

Bishop Rhoades added, “Finally, Padre Pio was assiduously devoted to prayer. He spent many hours day and night in conversation with God. He would say: ‘In books we seek God; in prayer we find Him. Prayer is the key which opens God’s heart.’ He would say, amid all the admiration around him: ‘I only want to be a poor friar who prays.’ My brother priests, our friendship and union with the Lord Jesus needs to be renewed each day. Christ is the vine and we are the branches. Without Him, we can do nothing. Our people rightly expect us and ask us to be men who belong to God and help them draw close to God. A priest is, after all, a mediator, an instrument of Christ the Mediator between God and man. People flocked to Padre Pio because he was a man of God. He even bore the wounds of Christ in his body, the stigmata. He shared in the Passion in a miraculous way. He had unique gifts. Fundamentally he was a man of God, a priest of Jesus Christ, who loved with the heart of the Good Shepherd. He was an ambassador for Christ, impelled by His love in all he said and did. And in this, he is a wonderful model for priests.

Jubilarian Father Larry Kramer said of his priesthood, “I’ve learned a lot from people, from dying people, from everyone I have ministered to. The vision I had of the priestly life style at ordination turned out to be accurate. As a priest, there are things you must do, and there is still the opportunity for your gifts to lead you and the needs of those you serve to lead you.”

He said, “There have been many blessings and there is no way I could look back over those years without believing very strongly in Providence.”

Msgr. Bernard Galic, who was ordained by Archbishop William Cousins in Milwaukee, told Today’s Catholic, “If I had to do it all over, I’d do it again, probably the same way I did it. I was blessed by God to spend half of my vocation, 24 years, at Holy Family Parish, South Bend. Now I am adjusting to a new assignment at St. Aloysius in Yoder.”

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