Fr. Kelly’s Introduction
July 6, 2014
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
MT 11:25-30

If you are reading this, chances are fairly good that you know me personally, or at least are aware of the fact that as of July 1, 2014, I hold the status of “senior priest” within the Diocese of Saginaw. What this means is that I am not assigned to a particular parish, and at this time, do not have regularly scheduled duties. When my decision to leave my post as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas was first made public, one of my best friends stopped me and asked: Why are you running from God? Without giving it a second thought….actually without thinking….I immediately replied: I’m not! I’m running to God!

You see, I was raised in a home where faith was the center of our family life. Somehow, throughout college and into a very busy professional career, I was able to maintain, what seemed to me anyway, to be a healthy spirituality. Still, “the things of the world” became more and more demanding. My time and attention were continually being over-taxed, and I became acutely aware of the fact that “the things of the Spirit” were getting less and less of my attention. Over time, the result of this priority shift was fatigue, in every sense of the word. Thankfully, my upbringing was so solid that I knew to turn to Christ, when I needed rest!

The Eucharist has always been a spiritual oasis for me. With time, I decided to pitch my tent, and reside there permanently. I accepted the invitation of the Holy Spirit, and in July of 1994 took on the yoke of ordained ministry. I cannot say that the work was easy, but without a doubt it was extremely rewarding and each day as a Catholic priest, I learned more about Christ, from you…The Body of Christ.

Senior priest status does not mean I am laying aside the work. It simply means that I am turning away even more from “the things of the world” so I can commit more fully to “the things of the Spirit.” By excusing myself from the busyness of parish life, I hope to enjoy the freedom to rest and relax in Christ.

I am sharing this personal information because maybe some “retiree” reading this reflection may come to see that the wisdom of age and experience is very useful in the service of the Lord! Christian service is a labor of love, that brings with it an opportunity to learn more about Christ than is to be found in any book or sermon. We meet Christ in a special, up close and personal way, when we serve those in need. Maybe some younger person, years from normal retirement age and on the verge of fatigue, might read this and remember Jesus’ words: ….you are anxious and worried about many things…there is need of only one thing! An hour of rest in the oasis of the Eucharist does wonders for the mind, the body and the spirit. Possibly a parent will read this and come to see how important it is to keep Christ at the center of family life because no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.

This weekend, our nation celebrates our freedom. Our Readings teach us that true freedom can only be found in our God. So…this holiday weekend….Run to God…and you will find rest for yourselves!