Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 9, 2003
Priesthood or Fatherhood?
Celibacy a stumbling block as a young man discerns his vocation
By RENATO GANDIA
My desire to be of service to the people of God through the priesthood became more intense.
Though bugged by the thoughts of not being a father someday, my desire to be of service to the people of God through the priesthood became more intense. When I left the seminary I missed doing ministry in the parish, in schools and hospitals.
For one thing, I love sharing and breaking open the word of God with people. Of course I can also do that as a lay person. But there is something attractive about the priesthood that is mystical and beyond my comprehension. Taking the risk of being called names, I realized what attracts me to the priesthood is something not to be fully understood, but fully experienced, fully lived.
Another lesson I've learned is that our life's choices allow us to let go of something in order to embrace other things. My father chose the vocation of being married and fatherhood. I am choosing another calling. What is crucial is that what we have chosen to embrace becomes a genuine channel of God's grace.
To me what is clear is I want to be God's instrument in allowing people to experience his never-ending love, as deeply rooted in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
My father may never fully understand why priests have to be celibate. And it is okay.
On the other hand I will never fathom what it is like to be a father. For me it will be a mystery shrouded in veil. But I know what it's like to be a son.
Ludicrous as it may sound, I believe celibacy like fatherhood is mystical. It is not meant to be fully understood, but fully experienced and lived.
Celibacy to be fully lived has to be based on chastity. And everyone, lay or ordained, is called to be chaste. As Carla Przybilla puts it, "Chastity is a way of loving that belongs to all Christians. Its goal is to produce lives that are noticeably marked by love."
And I believe it is that love that will sustain me in my journey: the love of my father, my mother, my whole family; the love of people who crossed my path, the love of friends I met and more importantly the love of God.
( Renato Gandia has been a reporter with the WCR for the past two years. He will soon return to St. Joseph Seminary to study for the Kamloops Diocese. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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