By Dana Doyle
Each year, our school takes its seventh graders to the Chrism mass, the Tuesday preceding Easter. As the mass begins, priests from all over the archdiocese process up the aisle. It is so inspiring to see the sheer numbers of men who have generously responded to God’s call. I love to see the faces of priests who have served in parishes where I have attended.
I remember Fr. Joe Bourgeois (deceased) who was pastor at Christ the King where I grew up. Every Christmas, he would get out his Teddy Bear and give a very special homily for the children in the Parish. It was warm and wonderful.
I also remember Fr. Pedro Nunez who was parochial vicar at that same church for a time – how every kid wanted to go to him for confession because he always offered a welcoming smile. His manner put many a nervous penitent at ease.
I remember Fr. John Reynolds (deceased) who was the pastor at St. Patrick’s on Camp Street. During his final years of illness and suffering, his life was a beautiful example of courage, and perseverance. He taught me how much God REALLY does love us.
When Father John Talamo was pastor at Our Lady of the Lake in Mandeville, he taught me that discipline is key to good discipleship. I loved his devotion to the (religious) education of youth. I gained a deeper appreciation of the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation because of his leadership.
I fondly remember Fr. Joseph Cazenavette’s time in Mandeville. He always had an air of peace surrounding him. He was quick with a smile or a kind word, and boldly defended our Catholic Faith. He taught me that faithfulness to prayer is very important. He modeled a great love and deep respect for the Blessed Sacrament.
This is just a small sampling of the many archdiocesan priests who have greatly touched my life. Why do I take this walk down memory lane with you?
I think that the job of a priest is a very difficult one in today’s world, and I think that we often take them for granted. It is through their holy priesthood and through their hands that we receive Jesus in the Eucharist. It is through them that we are able to hear the reassuring words of absolution. Let us lift them up in prayer daily, thanking God for the gift of their vocations. Let us pray that God will strengthen our priests with courage and perseverance to do God’s Will and to faithfully lead His people. Let us remember and honor our priests who have passed away by offering masses and rosaries for them. Finally, let us pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. May the young hear God’s call in their hearts and courageously answer with an emphatic, “Yes,” just as the many men who have served as priests in the Archdiocese of New Orleans have done in the past. From the bottom of my heart, “Thank you, Fathers!”
What priests have influenced or inspired you? Let us know in the comments!
Dana Doyle is a teacher and religion coordinator at Lady of the Lake School in Mandeville, a wife, a mother of three, an author and an avid blogger. Visit her blog, “Catholic Working Mom” at www.danardoyle.wordpress.com. Read more about this blogger here.