Praised be Jesus Christ! This weekend is a momentous one because we welcome a new priest into our midst: Father Aaron Becker. Along with two others, Father Becker was ordained a priest forever on June 24th and will celebrate his 1st Mass at 3:00 p.m. on June 25th at Christ the King. On June 29th Father will begin his first priestly assignment as the associate at Our Lady Queen of Heaven in Wisconsin Rapids and as Chaplain of Assumption Middle/High School. This is a huge transition - just a few weeks ago Aaron was finishing up his final exams and saying goodbye to the Eternal City. While I’ve quoted it before, Cardinal Farley’s remarks from his last night in Rome in 1870 are apropos of Aaron’s recent departure from Rome: “This evening I bade a sad farewell to the friends I love best perhaps on earth, to the College most dear, to the years the happiest of my life, and to the City of my very soul, to the soil moistened by the life stream of martyrs. Farewell Rome, but not, I hope, forever.” My first assignment was as an associate at St. Joachim in Pittsville, St. James in Vesper, and Holy Rosary in Sigel. I too was Chaplain at Assumption High School and taught full time for the two years I was assigned there. A priest’s first assignment is such an exciting time but also somewhat daunting. Everything is so new and sometimes people forget that. I remember last fall one time when Father Sedlacek was scheduled for a baptism and I assumed he’d already experienced that as a deacon – when I asked if he felt confident he said, “No, this will be my first one.” If I haven’t already mentioned it, it’s tough finding good help these days! In all seriousness, Father came to my next baptism to see how it goes and he’s been doing fine ever since. Father Becker will soon hear his first confession and anoint his first sick or dying person. These are unique moments that remind us of the mystery of Holy Orders. One moment the guy is no different from any other human being, and just a little while later he has the sacred powers of turning unleavened bread into Christ’s Body and wine into His Precious Blood. Lacordaire, the great 19th century Dominican preacher touched on this mystery when he wrote, “To live in the midst of the world with no desire for its pleasures; to be a member of every family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets, to heal all wounds; to daily go from men to God to offer Him their homage and petitions; to return from God to men to bring them His pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to bless and to be blest forever. O God, what a life, and it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!” We thank God for all who have shaped and formed Father Becker’s priestly heart – especially we remember his parents and their sacramental marriage. Once during a procession, Pope St. Pius X’s Mom saw her son’s papal ring and, while pointing to her own wedding band, quipped, “I had my ring before you had yours!” Yes, so many graces come into the world through sacramental marriage and we rightly thank God for all parents who conscientiously raise their children in the Catholic faith. And while we pause to bask in the joy of a new priest, we are vigilant in our prayers for more vocations so that the Gospel will be preached and lived everywhere. We pray that Father Becker and all priests will truly “receive the Gospel... believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
May God bless Father Aaron Becker, his family and friends, and all the souls who will be touched by his ministry!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin