A Message from Fr. Ben
July 22, 2018
As a child and a teenager, I never cared for school. As soon as school let out for the day I would run home, throw my bag of school books in a corner just inside the front door of our house, have a quick sandwich, and get changed to play sports all afternoon and evening. I never did any homework. The next morning, I would cheat on as much homework as possible from my best friend and hope for the best. Every day of elementary school, from the age of six to twelve, I received corporal punishment for incomplete homework.
While I felt that God might have been calling me to the priesthood, I always wanted to be a plumber, not a priest. I didn’t have anything against the priesthood, in fact I admired priests, but I really wanted to be involved in building things. I guess the reason for this was that when my mother wanted work done in our house, such as putting in a new heating system, or fixing the furnace, or replacing the sink in the bathroom, she would hire Mr. O’Kelly who lived two houses down from us. Mr. O’Kelly would make me his apprentice for the day and I would pass him the tools and materials. To a child, Mr. O’Kelly was a magician. How he was able to work the magic he did fascinated me. I wanted to be like him. There were five things I wanted when I grew up: I wanted to be married, I wanted to have children, I wanted to live in Dublin, I wanted to be a plumber, and I definitely didn’t want to go to school any longer than absolutely necessary.
I guess God thought that was very funny because God asked five main things from me. First, I would not marry; second, I would not have children of my own; third, I would not live in Dublin, nor even in Ireland; fourth, I would not be a plumber; and fifth, I would go to school for another ten years after completing High School and then teach in a school for another eighteen years. It’s not that I didn’t want to be a priest, but I would have preferred to do something else.
I definitely felt the call to the priesthood very strongly from an early age and in the end, I felt I had to at least give it a try to get it out of my system. That was my approach all through my studies for the priesthood. I would say I was hoping God might let me off the hook, all the way up to ordination. I was ordained to the priesthood almost twenty-five years ago and I have to say that it has been an amazing blessing and a wonderful life. I don’t regret a moment of it. God asks a lot, but no sacrifice is greater than the joy and reward He gives me because of all that the priesthood has given to me – so much more than I have ever given to God. It is not a wonderful life – it is more than wonderful.
I believe God has a purpose in all things and sometimes we realize that, after new or different paths open up to us. Maybe not the paths we would have chosen for ourselves, but the ones He has asked us to travel anyway. If we do so in faith it makes all the difference. That has been true for me. My own plans were good, but God’s plans have been better.
If it is in your mind, or your child’s heart to try it, don’t be afraid to give Jesus and the priesthood a chance – Jesus gives infinitely more than He asks.