This precious life

This past weekend being that of the ordination of my good friend, now Father Christopher Peschel, I see it only fitting to write on the subject of vocations. While I have so much to say about last Saturday’s service, the more I reflect on what I was able to witness that day, the more I realize that no matter our vocation, the goal is the same: to recognize that God is calling us to serve and to love. Whether we find ourselves leading the single life, taking matrimonial vows, or following the call to the priesthood, we are asked to do so much more than what so often meets the eye. 

This realization comes on the heels of witnessing what some would call some pretty powerful stuff on Saturday. Having only been to one ordination previous to this, and at that I was much younger, I didn’t know what to expect. I couldn’t remember the order of things, what exactly the ritual looked like, and how the ordination would come to fruition at the cathedral. But alas, I didn’t need to worry, as I followed along with the order of the Mass and the Rite of Ordination in our handy-dandy booklets. 

And it was during the actual rite that I noticed something happening. There were tears in my eyes. Yes, the Election of the Candidate and homily were wonderful, as was the Promise of the Elect and of course the Litany of Supplication. However, it was the moments when Chris was not alone, the moments when the priests who had come from far and wide to share in this day with him surrounded him, which truly struck me. How beautiful to watch as they each lay their hands on his head to invoke the Holy Spirit in prayer over him. And perhaps the most touching moment, personally speaking, was witnessing each of his brother priests greet Chris with the sign of peace. 

From my view in the choir loft of the Cathedral of St. Mary’s, I watched as each of the ordained made their way to the newest member of their brotherhood, grasping his shoulders and hugging him. From my view, nothing looked more like a family than at that moment. Today I cannot help but think of how much love was circulating around Chris in those minutes. How affirming to know that you are wanted, you are chosen, and you are loved. These men so greatly adore him, so greatly appreciate him, and in these gestures it was more than evident. 

This leads me to believe that entering into the priesthood — being surrounded by so much love, being called to witness and accept that love and through that, share it with others — is an example of something we each are called to do in our own ways. I think about the day that I will be a parent, and how I will want for my son or daughter the very experience of true love that Chris was able to experience on Saturday. Be it through the Rite of Ordination, a Marriage, or a journey through the single life, I will want my children to know what it feels like to love and be loved completely. 

Saturday I was shown what that looks like. I discovered what it was to be accepted and loved for exactly who you are and who you are called to be. There are responsibilities in any of the walks of life I just mentioned. Each role comes with its own challenges, expectations, tasks — but they also come with successes, happiness, and joys. Watching the rite on Saturday showed me that with the support of those around you, those who welcome you with open arms into their life — and in Chris’ case, their shared vocation — then you will never be alone and will always be buoyed by a love that is so present

 I pray that Father Chris sees all of those successes and more, and knows that Christ is with him on the journey when the challenges arise. He’s taught me that life is precious and that we must do with it what we are called. Through this we’ll find the happiness we are meant to experience and the drive to serve that we are called to. Congratulations Father Chris! We are so blessed to have priests like you, who dedicate their lives to Christ and all His good works. 

Anchor columnist Renee Bernier is a Stonehill College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

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