We've asked one of the young priests of the Archdiocese to share his journey and thoughts on being a priest. Here is his reflection on priesthood.
by Fr Marty Larsen
Being a priest is an “interesting” career to share in. In one sense, you bring the gifts that you have, to the people that you work with. Conversely, you are shaped by the community you are sent to ‘pastor’ to. Working with people is a privilege, yet it also comes with its obstacles. Sometimes you are called to be with people in their sadness and this can be difficult at times. Many times however, you walk with people in their joys and milestones.
In the one and half years of being a priest I have done over 100 baptisms, 11 weddings, 36 funerals and celebrated mass hundreds of times. I have walked with people in these sacramental moments and they have been blessings to be a part of.
I would consider these to be ‘big’ occasions, yet, it is the little moments of priesthood that are the most enjoyable. The look a small child gives you just as you pour water over their head in baptism, the way a person thanks you for doing their mum’s funeral. You cannot quantify the impact these moments have on you. It is such a privilege to be able to walk with people in the special moments of their lives.
Priesthood can be exhilarating and it can be commonplace. Recently I was asked to celebrate mass for a couple who were celebrating 50 years of marriage. That is such a joy to be a part of. In this small gesture, you get to walk with people as they reach milestones in their lives.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge who is our archbishop here in Brisbane suggests that we don’t become routine priests. It is a point I always try to remember, yet there is a ‘routine’ to saying daily mass, visiting hospitals and going to schools. Life can be routinely structured, but it doesn’t have to become dull. Some of the best moments are the ordinary moments, like, sitting with a wedding couple, chilling with a class talking about ethics or saying mass at 5pm on a Monday afternoon.
One of the traps of being a priest is remembering the line, “it’s not about me; it’s about God.” Our profession is one primarily where we are thanked a lot for what we do. I was once at a meeting where I was just a participant and someone came up to me afterwards and said thanks for being there!
It becomes important not to focus on the self. It is true that we can go on an ego trip with all the positive comments that we receive, yet it also important to remember we have serious task of being there for others. I find that when I reflect on this statement, that it becomes a moment of grounded-ness.
All the work that we do is for God. God is the reason why people are at mass. God is the reason why people are initiated into the church. God was the one who chose me to walk this path with people. Whenever the ego is quick to want to take over, I remind myself that I am walking in the footsteps of so many priests who have walked before me, to make priesthood what it is today in Brisbane. I give thanks to God for the gift that God has given to me: priesthood.