World Day of Prayer for Vocations this weekend along with the Holy Father's recent announcement of the Jubilee Year of the Priest to begin on June 19 both coincide nicely with ordination anniversaries this time of year.
As we priests reflect on the privilege and joy of our vocations, the countless people who have been Christ to us come to mind. Celebrating God's love in our various parish communities is key for making us feel like we belong.
We have been allowed to enter into such blessed and spiritually moving occasions: baptisms, first communions, confirmation, weddings, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, funerals, picnics, home visits, religious education, meeting and planning with Knights of Columbus, Council of Catholic Women, St. Vincent de Paul, parish staff, councils, committees, choirs, and many others where we richly experience family in our role as spiritual fathers.
It is, however, when we gather together around the Lord's table for weekend and weekday Masses that we can be so powerfully and beautifully aware that we are the Body of Christ, the flock of the Lord as his priests and people. This has happened to us time and time again as we pray together and listen to God's word together and receive the Eucharist together.
May all of you know, whether young or old, new to their parish or of long standing, known by many or by a few, that you have changed peoples' lives for the good, including us priests. Our priesthood has been strengthened, our love for you and for God has been deepened, our faith in all that Christ has promised has been enlivened because of each and every one of you. You cannot be forgotten. It is a special grace to have come to know the many people who also serve as support staff to us priests in all capacities.
Anniversaries come and go, but our thanks to God just grows and grows when we priests think back with heartfelt gratitude for all that has been and look ahead with joyful hope for all that will be as we continue serving all our sisters and brothers in the Lord, our family.
Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the vicar general for the Diocese of Madison.