It happens in every parish…
Priests are assigned to parishes to do the work for the people. They sacrifice their lives to help those around them. The most important thing they do is celebrate the Sacraments and of course the Mass which is the summit of our lives. They provide advice, comfort, friendship and mostly love.
Priests are moved from parish to parish and sometimes onto other very important duties within the Church. It is a rarity to have priests in parishes for more than a few years before moving onto either another parish or assignment that the Bishop determines would benefit the Diocese.
When priests first come to a new parish, it is an adjustment for everyone. For the parishioners, it is learning a new priest’s style and mannerisms. How does he say Mass? What are his sermons like? What ministries is he drawn to? Will he fit in?
For the priests and deacons that are already at the parish, it is learning to work with a new colleague. It is adjusting to personalities and working alongside someone who has also dedicated his life to God and the Church.
But for the new priest, the prospects must be frightening and exhilarating at the same time. I can’t even imagine the situation that he is thrown into and all the time is expected to smoothly transition into his new role.
In my parish of Our Lady of Peace, we have been so blessed to have many amazing priests come and go into all our lives. Just when you get used to one, he is called to go to another parish and you feel let down but happy for his opportunity to serve others as you have been served. You wish him well but secretly don’t want to see him go. It is the nature of the vocation.
In my wonderful parish for the past 3 years, we have been extremely blessed to have a newly ordained priest assigned to our parish for his very first stop. And we have all seen first hand the extraordinary gifts and talents of this holy man.
I don’t know how to accurately describe Fr. Kevin Mohan. When you first meet him, you feel the calming presence of someone who truly has a personal relationship with God. You are struck by his youth, and at the same time, his ability to be wise well beyond his years. When you talk with him, you know that his full attention is with you at that moment. He is not thinking about what else he has to do or when his next Mass is. You are his sole concern and it is rare indeed when you can truly have a meaningful conversation with someone who is not preoccupied with the busyness of life.
The times that I have sought out counsel from Fr. Mohan, I have been so comforted by his words of peace and prayer. For a rookie priest, he is truly inspiring. He opened my eyes and my heart to alternatives that I had not considered before and was brutally honest with me when I didn’t want to accept what I already knew I had to do in a very difficult situation.
And now, Fr. Mohan is leaving for a new assignment just like we all knew he would. It is a sad day but also a happy one as we know Fr. Mohan will take on his new assignment with the same enthusiasm, love and grace that God gave him when he answered Yes to Him.
I must admit I am slightly jealous of the new folks that he will get to work with. They have no idea what they are in for. This priest, this holy man of God will change their lives as he did mine. He will make a real difference the second he walks into the door. He is truly God’s messenger.
So, to Fr. Mohan I just want to say thank you. Thank you for first surrendering your life to God’s will. Thank you for your kindness, wisdom, incredible sermons , merciful confessions, and for just being there for me and for all of us. Our parish is so much better because you were here and you have made a lasting impression. I wish you health, success, happiness and most of all, love and peace in the life that God has chosen for you. I can never repay you for what you have done for me and you will be in my prayers daily.
And for the rest of you, thank your priests, deacons and religious for what they have done for you. Don’t wait until they are gone to acknowledge what they have sacrificed for God and for us all. Pray for them daily and continue to support them no matter where they are.