I was ordained a priest fifty-nine years ago today. I have never remembered the day or thought of it as an anniversary, but I just received a card reminding me that it will be sixty years in 2012. The priests ordained in Ireland that day are meeting over there next August. They asked me if I’d come. I don’t think I will. I am in a rut, liking what I am doing here, and not wanting a change.
On December 20, 1952 I was ordained in Omaha for the Columban missionaries. There were seven of us. We had been together for six year without one boy leaving. Only one of the others is alive now, and I am not sure that he in good health.
One change for the better over these years is that as priest we are usually treated like normal humans, rather than as part of the gentry. Before she lost Jack Kennedy, Jackie used to say the worst thing that happened to her was that she lost her anonymity. I know what she meant. I like being a stranger in stores and on the buses. I like black people who always exchange greetings, making us one family.
I am saddened by stories about priests molesting kids. I just read the statistics from Belgium on this sad subject. It said the occurrence of molesting between clergy and the general public is about the same. It showed that molesting among non-Catholic clergy is the same as among Catholics, but we do seem to get more attention. The only priest molester I ever knew was an otherwise wonderful man who hit on a handsome seminarian. I feel sorry for both of them.
I hate it when dirt is cast on wonderful priests. On the anniversary of my ordination I thank God for letting me associate with so many saintly, scholarly, kind men.