Sunday, May 15, 2011

tu es sacerdos

       

23 years ago today I celebrated my first Mass at my home parish (Blessed Sacrament), the day after I was ordained a priest (May 14th) by Cardinal Keeler.
I was blessed that my family was able to attend both the Ordination and the First Mass especially since it involved a 600+ mile drive (round trip) from Erie to Harrisburg. My three brothers, Joseph, Michael and Mark were there and my Mom and Dad as well as many aunts and uncles and cousins galore.

Less than ten years later, my brother Michael died at the age of 26 from Muscular Dystrophy; my brother Joe (age 33) was killed by an underage drunk driver; six months after that, my Dad died (age 70) from Leukemia. I also had the funerals of six uncles and four aunts since I was ordained. Six assignments (five transfers) occurred in that time spanning parish life, hospital chaplaincy and tribunal work. During that same period Almighty God blessed me through my mentor Father Bob Levis a relationship with Mother Angelica and EWTN. Web of Faith, Council of Faith, Crash Course in Catholicism, Crash Course in Pope John Paul II, Crash Course in the Saints have all been a tremendous privilege and joy to be a part of it.

Father Ken Brighenti and I have been close friends since 1983 when we met at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, CT. He was deacon at my ordination to priesthood since he would be ordained a priest two weeks later for the Diocese of Metuchen. During the past 23 years he and I have collaborated on seven books from Catholicism for Dummies to the Catholic Mass for Dummies et al.  He also came to the funerals of my brothers and my father, something which I will always appreciate and never be able to thank adequately. Bishop Kevin Rhoades was able to secure us tickets for a papal audience with Holiness Pope Benedict XVI a few years ago which allowed us to present him with a special hard-bound copy of JP2 for Dummies.

I am also grateful for good friends like Father Dennis Dalessandro, one of my closest friends in the Diocese of Harrisburg; Thomas McKenna of Catholic Action; Drs. Keith and Tina Burkhart; Dr. Liz Frauenhoffer; Michael Drake of TFP; Dave & Amy Zak and many others, too numerous to name.

Of all these experiences, however, the most profound and edifying experience has been celebrating the sacraments as a Roman Catholic priest. Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily and hearing confessions every weekend is the real absolute source and summit of joy in my priesthood and in my entire life. Doing TV and radio shows, preaching retreats and writing books are for me an enjoyable hobby just as some of my colleagues enjoy going golfing, fishing, hunting, sports, etc.  While parish life can be challenging at times (particularly when parishioners let you know how fallible, peccable and imperfect you are as a human being) there are the other occasions like baptisms, weddings, first Communions, first Confessions, and so on, which encourage you to persevere.

Standing at the altar, holding the host and chalice and saying those exact words of Jesus from the Last Supper: THIS IS MY BODY ... THIS IS MY BLOOD, that is what makes all the trials and tribulations of twelve years of seminary worth while. Being an alter-Christus to act in Persona Christi is the ultimate joy and pleasure of Holy Orders. Even though the pain of losing two brothers never fully leaves you, the fraternity of the Priesthood (especially via the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) and Diaconate has given me many more brothers who love and support me as well. Every now and then a person will send an email  or tell me in person how grateful they are for my priesthood and I tell them "no more grateful than I, however." Despite politics, bureaucracy, skullduggery, intrigue, betrayal, and some real diabolical animosity, there have also been profound moments and times of joy, happiness, contentment, satisfaction, pride, friendship and fraternal love which make all the crosses bearable and endurable by the Grace of God. My brother priests (those loyal to the Pope and Magisterium) and my brothers and sisters in Christ: thank you for your continuing prayers and support.  The intercession of Our Lady, Mother of Priests and Queen of the Clergy and the leadership and example of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have been a true anchor in my ordained life and I am most grateful just as I am to my beloved family and friends. May God bless you and Mary keep you.


11 comments:

Tara said...

Happy Anniversary!!! And thanks for answering God's call to bring us Grace--without you--the priest--our church would be nothing. We are so blessed by your 23 years of service to our Lord :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your anniversary! You have written a beautiful post. Thank you for your Priesthood. You have done many wonderful things for the Church and have touched many people around the world. You are clearly a very strong person and for that I am sure you will be rewarded. Thank you again.

Deacon David said...

May the blessings and consolations of DNIC continue to fill your heart and ministry with joy! Thank you for your thoughts and your example, and happy anniversary.

Anonymous said...

Father, Tara said it better than I could, but I did want to add my thanks to you for being a faithful and true priest of Holy Mother Church especially during some exceedingly rough moments.

God bless you and may Our Blessed Mother keep you close to Her Son and form you into a priest after His Sacred Heart!

Veronica

Anonymous said...

Happy anniversary, Father...

Anonymous said...

Very good, heart rending blog post. How is Fr. Levis?

Anonymous said...

Father, you probably will downplay what I am going to say, and deflect the credit, but I mean it with all sincerity. I was a fallen away cradle catholic who was away from the church for about 15 years. I credit you and Fr. Levis via "Web of Faith" with guiding me back to the faith. I hope corraling this lost sheep gets you a "get out of purgatory free" card. Thank You Father Trigilio, you and Fr. Levis are in my prayers.

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

It pains me to say that beloved Father Levis is now in a nursing home, recovering from a nasty concushion to the head he received two Christmas' ago AND a broken hip from several falls (while in the nursing home). Father Bob needs a walker and is confined to a small room, which he does not mind HOWEVER, they have NO E.W.T.N. where he is at and that saddens him greatly.

Father Bob is in good spirits and will be 90 years old this June but it is disconcerting to see this very active, very intelligent and very holy man slowed down so much.

Simultaneously, my mother (who lives in the same city as Fr. Bob) suffers from aortic stenosis and severe back problems (disk, spinal cord, vertebrae, etc.) As both live over 300 miles from me, it is not easy to visit them often enough.

Please keep BOTH in your prayers.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Trigilio. Thank you for your priesthood and thank you for your example. You, your mom, and Fr. Levis will all be remembered in my prayers.

Re: Fr. Levis - could he get a portable DVD player for his room? I would be happy to send him DVDs from EWTN and elsewhere. Also, if he could get access to a computer, he could listen to/watch some EWTN shows.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Trigilio - I'm sorry if this message has gone through already; I'm experiencing computer glitches.

Would it be possible to give us an address for Fr. Levis so that we could send him cards of appreciation and encouragement? Thank you.

Nicodemus said...

Happy Anniversary...

My Blog List

Blog Archive