I can remember the first time I met Fr. Brent. I was new to Gtown as the youth minister and had invited him at the teens' request to play ultimate frisbee. After a long talk that same evening, Fr. Brent and I became friends.
My mother worked as church secretary at our parish for as much of my childhood as I can honestly remember. I had grown up surrounded by dozens of priests. Later, I had done ministry work for the church and met many holy priests whom I'd enjoyed working for and with, doing the Lord's work. I have watched as priests have abandoned their prayers or hot dinner to console a struggling teen or hurting family. I've seen Christ so clearly in their words and actions.
But as I got to know Fr. Brent, my view of the priesthood shifted. We were not "friends" like I'd call Kate a friend. Fr. Brent was my Padre. There were times I recall visiting with him, having dinner with him and our friends at his rectory, that I was certain I wasn't just having dinner with Brent but with Christ himself. Padre's desire to know and care for his flock on a personal level, shifted my perspective and changed my view of Christ. I knew that the Lord wasn't far from me, wasn't distant, but was as near and as caring as my Padre was to me. Padre was a priest, but he was fun!?! We ran a marathon with friends in Rome, lead buses of kids on the March for Life together (while he carried around a giant stuffed tiger). And I imagined if the Lord were here, then He'd also be running marathons and carrying tigers too.
Since then, I've made other priest friends. And they too are dear to me in a way that helps me to see Christ more clearly.
If you started reading this "Priesthood" post and expected me to talk about Sacraments and the Mass and the beautiful gift of the institution of Holy Orders, I've probably disappointed you. That was not my intent. I know too well that the greatest gift Padre has ever given me was celebrating my Nuptial Mass alongside my friend, Fr. Brian. After all, doesn't every father wish to see his daughter happily married? #livinglent2