"Father, thank you so much. I feel wonderful! I fell so clean!"
I was sitting in the confessional and had just finished hearing the Confession of a young college student. Several years had passed since her last Confession and she had fallen in many of the ways that are all too common in adolescence and young adulthood. With tears in her eyes, she said to me, "I am sick and tired of sin. I am not happy and I want Jesus back in my life." Afterward, she clearly had experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus in the sacrament of Confession. She said she felt wonderful and clean. I replied, "You're welcome. But this is just what priests do." And then I added, rather piously, "Jesus is the one who died on the cross for us so that our sins can be forgiven. He is the one we should thank." The young girl looked at me thoughtfully and said, "Father, I know that is true. And I love Jesus. But right now, I can't see him. I can just see you."
As she turned to walk out, she stopped and looked back again. "Father, if this is just what priests do, it must be awesome to be a priest."
That story was taken from the beginning of the first chapter of a book entitled, "To Save A Thousand Souls" by Father Brett A. Brannen.
How truly awesome it is to be called to serve the Church as a priest. What a great experience it is to interact in the lives of so many people at the times they need it the most. I think sometimes we fail to pass on the reality of the awesomeness of being a priest or a religious in the Church today. Many of our young people have not heard the stories about the role priests or sisters have played in our lives. Please pass on the stories to our youth about the religious or priests who have impacted your lives. It may be an inspiration to them. I would also appreciate hearing some of your stories about these priests, brothers, or sisters. I'd like to find a way to share some of these stories, perhaps even here on my blog, or in the diocesan newspaper, the Harvest. You can e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send them to me at the chancery, Father Leo McDowell, Vocations Office, PO BOX 1399, Great Falls, MT 59403. Don't forget to pray for vocations.