This weekend was a moment of celebration for my home Diocese of Fresno as three of our seminarians were ordained to the diaconate on Saturday. Their ordination marks the commencement of one final year of preparation for the priesthood and is a joyful moment for the faithful here in the Central Valley.
A Father’s Love
Since one of these faith-filled young men is from my own parish, we had the double blessing of hearing Michael Andrade’s homily at our 9:30 am Mass on Sunday. Michael’s message centered around yesterday’s gospel passage from Mark 4. He personalized his homily, fittingly delivered on Father’s day, to share that some of his earliest memories of prayer related to his father praying the Rosary every morning before work. Recalling a special Sunday morning ritual, Michael shared how his father would often include Michael in his early Rosary prayers. Michael admitted to occasionally drifting off to sleep in those moments, content in the arms of his dad in prayer.
Michael went on to convey to us a beautiful image of Jesus Christ, so content in the love and embrace of God the Father that he could calmly sleep in the midst of a storm while his disciples were awash in fear. I loved it when Michael reminded us that although life’s storms will often come upon us, we too can rest in God’s love through the gift of the Eucharist.
Michael encouraged the fathers in our congregation to create an environment in their homes where their children could encounter a sense of God’s abiding and unconditional love. It’s clear to me that I have this gift in my own life, and that it is a gift my children will share as well through the example set by my husband.
And it’s also clear to me that although I don’t know Michael Andrade’s father personally, this holy man has embodied our Heavenly Father’s love for his son and played a large part in Michael’s vocation to the priesthood.
As I listened to Michael preach, I wrote in my journal the words, “Future Bishop?” Michael asked for our prayers for him and his fellow seminarians. God willing, next year we will watch as he celebrates his first Mass… and who knows what the future holds for this special young man. In my heart, I sensed the pastoral nature of a true spiritual shepherd. Michael taught a woman twice his age yesterday with a message that was succinct, eloquently delivered, and inspirationally motivating. I believe the future is bright for future Father Andrade.
Surely many factors blend with God’s grace to form a priestly vocation. Only God knows what’s in store for Michael Andrade and the other young men who have moved this next step to embracing their “Yes” to God’s will for their lives.
But you can be sure that one Fresno housewife will be praying for Michael and his fellow seminarians every step of the way.
A question for you: Have you met a young priest or seminarian recently who truly gave you hope?