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Joy of service and the spirit

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On May 30, 1998, I woke up for the last time in my seminary dorm room. It was the morning of Ordination Day. As I was making coffee from my faithful little and way overused coffee maker, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of “calm before the storm” in this moment. Still in my pajamas, I sat at my small desk sipping on my Folger’s brew while viewing the room in this place I have called home for many years. I especially noticed the 40+ scattered books to be returned to the library. They were part of the aftermath from an academic storm of final papers and various theses defended only a few days prior. Returning them, along with packing the few worldly possessions, would happen in the next few days. I felt a sentimental
breeze knowing that I would soon have a new dwelling with a new community.

Hanging on the door were my freshly pressed alb, amice, and cincture, along with my new cassock and black suit. It was time to get dressed and visit the chapel before breakfast and my eventual departure for the cathedral. Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful day you have made. I rejoice in it!

Along with my four classmates, I knew that things were about to be very different. With the laying on of the bishop’s hands, life would be changed forever. Veni Creator Spiritus! Come Creator Spirit! Over the next few hours, these powerful words flooded my heart. I’m ready to leave my upper room like those who
were being prepared to leave the Upper Room as the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon them at that first Pentecost, flooding their hearts and charging them to go out to preach the Good News. Come Holy Spirit! Bring it on, I’m ready.

One of the most vivid memories during the ordination ceremony was the moment I found myself on the floor of the cathedral sanctuary while the Litany of Saints was being chanted. With my chin and hands exposed to cool marble, I lie there while the bishop, brother priests, and the people of God invoke the names of our heavenly cheerleaders, every one of these holy saints who know what laying down one’s life truly means. All you holy men and women, pray for us!

These are just a few of the recollections of my ordination day in 1998. Other details that day are captured in photos or stories told by a family member or a friend. But more importantly, it’s those wonderful events and precious souls encountered since that day twenty-five years ago. The privilege and honor of being invited into the sacred space of people’s hearts through the many baptisms, weddings, funerals, confessions, conversa&ons, laughter, tears, cookouts, banquets, retreats, and other encounters of grace. In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. All of these loving encounters with my beloved
spouse, my holy Church. How the Lord delights in His people!

Today we again celebrate Pentecost Sunday. While the Upper Room was a good first encounter with the Holy Spirit, how much more exciting it was for the disciples to encounter Him and then go forth since that first Pentecost over two thousand years ago. How exciting it has been for me during these last two and a half decades.

Please pray for me and my fellow Jubilarians as we continue, please God, to discover the joy of that same Spirit for years and an eternity to come! Come, Holy Spirit!

With gra&tude and love,
Fr. Gurnick