Once upon a time, I walked down the stairwell of Mount Angel Seminary and met Alfred, the new seminarian who was moving in to seminary for the very first time. I imagine my energy and personality may have overwhelmed him as I was someone so extroverted and passionate for seminary during those years.
During that initial year, I found him to be very reserved. Yet, as the years progressed, Alfred and I have shared a special bond with each other. He shared his culture, passion for the liturgy, and above all his friendship with me.
Even when his mother was called by the Lord I found him in my room that early morning in his grief seeking a friend’s consolation. Since then, Alfred has always been a steadfast friend who has helped me bear my own cross in life.
Earlier this week, I traveled to Hawaii to witness a momentous occasion. Alfred responded to the divine call of God to the sacred duty of the ministerial priesthood – a life that is no longer his own- in an entire life service to the people of Honolulu.
His sister offered him a Hawaiian Floral Lei that evening as he dawned the priestly chasuble. As countless priests came to embrace him with a fraternal hug the leaves of the lei began to shed. It was poetic for me as it was an image of how he, as a priest of God, will now spend his life tirelessly shedding his life for others- dying for others in order that they may rise in Christ. I finally understood and with deep gratitude came to realize that through all the crosses we have helped each other carry through the years- that reserved friend who I met in the stairwell, had finally made it! Responded to divine love … my friend is a priest forever. I hope that I, too, may live my vocation as it reveals itself.
Here’s a picture of such a happy reunion during this short visit to paradise: