James Reardon will be ordained a priest on September 7, 2001 for the Diocese of Erie. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy with minors in psychology and Latin from Gannon University, Erie, in 1997. He is an alumnus of Sharon Senior/Junior High School and Case Avenue Elementary School, both in Sharon. He is a son of Leo and Frances Reardon.
By Deacon James Reardonfor the Lake Shore Visitor
This article appeared in the Friday, May 4, 2001, edition of the Lake Shore Visitor, newspaper of the Erie Diocese.
When I was a boy, a priest left the sanctuary and entered the nave of the church. He soon picked me to go with him back to the sanctuary and stand with him behind the altar. Then, he invited all the other children around the altar.
At that moment, I felt that I was “the man.” My head was so big that nothing could have deflated it. I was the one chosen to be with the priest over the others.
A few years later, I had another experience when I went to confession. The priest and I were shooting the breeze when he asked, “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?”
At that exact moment, I was thinking it would be neat if the roles were reversed if I were the priest and the priest were me. But I was caught off guard and said, “No! I never thought about becoming a priest.”
After reflecting on those experiences and what I have learned through my religious education, I was enlightened that the priest, actually, was God speaking to me.A third significant experience happened when, as a junior in high school, I attended a live-in hosted by St. Mark Seminary, Erie. When I arrived at the seminary for the weekend, a weighty burden was lifted off my shoulders. I translated that experience as: “It is right and good for me to be here.”
I sacrificed many things dear to me in order to follow a countercultural way of life. But these little sacrifices that seem so huge are nothing compared with what the Lord Jesus Christ did for me on Calvary.
Many loved ones were at my side helping me during the hard times. One of my dearest friends — from junior high school through graduate work — helped me stay focused on what “can be” in the future. I learned many God-given gifts from her.
Along with this friend, my family and other friends have helped me realize the bigger picture of life. I have and will continue to learn from them so I may become the best person I can be.
These coaches of mine take up a big spot in my heart. Whether they know it or not, I love them, because they have shown me another part of Christ I was not familiar with.
The reaction from my parents and friends was one of shock. The shock came because they did not understand why I wanted to be a priest. It is hard for someone without the call to understand the call given to others.
The peace resulting from my decision to become a priest helps others to know that my reaction to answer God’s call is sincere. Since I believe that God is calling me to the priesthood, others sense this inner peace and support me. Without the support of family, friends and priests, I do not think I could have continued.
Not all men who enter the seminary become priests. The seminary helps a man to better his prayer life or helps a man form a prayer life.
The seminary is like a fraternity house. You meet people from all over the world. The opportunity to receive the body and blood of Christ every day is wonderful.
Ultimately, the seminary is a house for a man to discern whether or not God is calling him to priesthood, to marriage, or to remain single. We have many men from different backgrounds who leave their jobs as doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, truck drivers, salesmen, private owners, brokers, and computer experts to enter the seminary.
Why would they leave their good paying jobs? What could they be missing? They answered these questions with a simple response: They were not at peace!
The priests who are at peace, I believe, do not have heavy burdens because they know how to delegate responsibility to competent others. A priest is called to be a leader not a micromanager.
I will be dedicated to the Eucharist. I will be a faithful and trustworthy priest dedicated to following Christ. I will listen and give advice as a priest with a sense of community in mind so that all may feel welcomed.
I will rely on the teachings of the church. I will go the extra mile for everyone. I will be the best servant of God that I can be with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The satisfaction received and given in the priesthood is sharing the love of God with others and watching people grown closer to God.
If you are thinking about the priesthood, then you should act upon it. There are too many “what ifs” in life. The seminary is a place for you to go and to think about this questions: “What is God calling me to do with my life? Like the U.S. Marines, the Catholic Church is looking “for a few good men.”
My outlook on life is positive. I seek the goodness in all experiences, whether they are good or bad. I want to be there for others rather than having others serving me.