Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 KGS 19:16B, 19-21
Responsorial Psalm PS 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
- (cf. 5a)You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Reading 2 GAL 5:1, 13-18
Alleluia 1 SM 3:9; JN 6:68C
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 9:51-62
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 29 & 30, 2019
When I was ordained over 43 years ago I had no idea what was in store for me as a priest. I always thought I would die young and never thought about retirement one day. My Dad died at 54 and I never expected to outlive that strong man. My Mom died at 80 and she was working part time until she was 72. Last Fall I was asked what my plans were by the Archbishop which he asked the last three years since I am now 72. I indicated my plan to retire as I felt that I had given most of my leadership to the parish in five years and that it was time for new leadership. Later I indicated to the Archbishop that I would be willing to do another year if he needed me to do so. There are days when I thought maybe I should have waited another year or so but then there are days when I am glad that I will be retiring while I still seem to be fairly healthy!
My motto from my ordination is from 1st Corinthians 4:1 “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.” I always want to be of service to others and to the parish. I strive to be a responsible leader who is not afraid of work. My strength is my compassion for others. My weakness is in organization and dealing with papers in an efficient manner—just look at my office after about three months of moving into a clean office. People have always been more important to me than paperwork. As I age my memory is not as good as it once was. I find it more difficult to call names to mind and sometimes even to remember faces until someone clues me in. That is another reason to retire! I always said I would quit before I became an old cranky priest—I think I have been successful in that.
I have met many wonderful people and have served at St. Patrick Parish in Waukon, St. Joseph Parish in Cresco, La Parroquia de San Rafael in Cochabamba, Bolivia, St. Peter & St. Paul Parish in Petersburg, Holy Ghost Parish in Dubuque, Immaculate Conception Parish in Van Horne, St. Paul Parish in Newhall, St. Michael Parish in Norway, St. Patrick Parish in Watkins, St. John Parish in Blairstown, St. Mary Parish in Waverly, St. Patrick Parish in Hampton, St. Mary Parish in Ackley, St. Mary Parish in Marshalltown and Nativity Parish in Dubuque. I have enjoyed all of my parishes—there is always good things about each parish and some things I happy to leave behind. Sometimes I am too sensitive to what people do or say. I then have to pray my way through whatever challenge it is.
Saying yes to priesthood has given me the opportunity to see the world from Cochabamba, Bolivia to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, to Ascension, Paraguay to Santiago, Chile, to Lima and Machu Picchu, Peru to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Ireland, Luxembourg, Germany, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Canada. Many of these trips were pilgrimages which made them even better, thanks be to God.
In the first reading today we have Elijah passing on his cloak to Elisha. When I found out that Fr. Andrew Upah was going to succeed me as pastor I was pleased. I am happy to pass on my “cloak” to Fr. Andy. He will bring some more youth to the parish as he is 35 years younger than me!
In the Gospel Jesus is determined to journey to Jerusalem as he passes through Samaria. The Samaritans and the Jews were in a longstanding argument about where the proper place was to worship God. The Samaritans maintained that the proper place was on Mount Gerizim while the Jews said Jerusalem.
Multiple people in today’s readings are faced with a choice—do they want to follow God’s will in a more radical way, turning away from old attachments and possessions, or do they want to serve “the flesh” (Galatians :13), remaining stuck in their past lives?
To enter fully into discipleship means to commit to a lifelong and life-giving relationship. Such a commitment demands the constant moving forward without looking back to what was or was not accomplished. It also means letting go of those relationships that would hinder the freedom to move the mission forward and to move forward with the mission.
Of the three persons whom Jesus invites to follow him, the first one is impulsive. He is willing to follow Jesus wherever Jesus goes but Jesus does not encourage him but gives him a warning Instead. The other two would-be disciples want to take care of home matters before they cast their lot as disciples. I knew in 1968, my twenty-first year, it was time to begin studies to be a priest or it was not going to happen. I am glad I made that first step to apply to become a diocesan priest.
I want to thank my family and friends for their support over the years and the staff from the parishes where I served. I thank Joan Bradley, Helen Kilburg, Mary Ann McCauley, Karen Leisen, Becky Krapfl, Deacon Steve Whiteman and Deacon Dave McGhee and Judy Calcari. I thank the Seven Sisters and all who prayed for me.
As I retire from active ministry I am not retiring from priesthood and of being of service to God and to others. Now it is time to better prepare myself for the new Jerusalem and to be determined to get there as was Jesus. In the end I want to be able to say with St. Paul in his second letter to Timothy, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”