By Father Michael Duffy
I knew I wanted to become a priest when after not having gone to Mass for most of my youth I started going to Mass again. I sat in the back of my parish church, looked up at the priest and in an instant I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. That moment, some 13 years ago, has been the driving force of my life ever since.
When people ask how I knew in that moment that I wanted to be a priest and I simply tell them I fell in love. In an instant I fell in love with the priesthood, with the Church, with Jesus Christ. That love has since developed into a deeper and more fruitful relationship than I ever could have imagined.
Since ordination eight months ago my life has been a whirlwind. Priesthood has been everything I ever hoped it to be and more. I was assigned to the parish of St. Kilian, in Farmingdale, New York, and have found parish life has been the most exciting and challenging thing I’ve ever done. Priesthood is an honor for both my family and me, but even more than an honor, it is the most humbling of callings.
In the last eight months I’ve encountered people in intimate of ways. I’ve been present at the beginning and the end of parishioners’ lives. I’ve witnessed young men and women giving themselves to each other in Matrimony. To stand at the altar and to speak the words of consecration continues to be the most profound moment of each day. Every time I raise my hand to offer the loving mercy of absolution in the Sacrament of Penance I am both moved and reminded of my priesthood. It can still shock me that everything I’ve ever wanted from that moment thirteen years ago onward has come to fruition.
It has also become clear that ordination to the priesthood was not the end of my formation. It was the end of my seminary days – which I loved and remember fondly. Ordination was more the beginning, the start of the rest of my life. It was a continuation of the falling in love that happened when I sat in the back of that church and looked up at that priest.
I pray each day that I can live up to the call I’ve been given. No man can do this on his own. Priests need the continued assistance of the angels and saints and of the people of God. We rely upon the help of the Lord. At times it is awesome, for priesthood is serious business. Yet it is also fun because it is delightful to become a part of my people’s lives. As a father looks forward to seeing his family at the end of the day, I look forward to Sunday to see my family in the parish. I thank the Lord for calling me to this life. There’s nothing else like it!
Father Michael Duffy is associate pastor at Saint Kilian's Parish, Farmingdale, New York, in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York.