Why We Pray for Priests

A portion of Fr Vallee’s homily for Mother’s Day:

I. Mother’s Day/Ordinations
Today, I went to the ordination of three priests at the Cathedral. As you may know, the “form” of ordination is Bishop’s Prayer of Consecration. The “matter” of ordination is the laying on of hands. First the bishops, then the priests, each, touch the men to be ordained. I was ordained 22 years ago next Saturday. That day, 22 years ago, is kind of a blur to me. But one thing stands out clearly. As soon as the ceremony was over, Bishop Dorsey pulled me aside. I had lived with Bishop Dorsey for two years before being ordained a priest, one as a seminarian and one as a deacon. He brought me into the candle room where a little Haitian lady was praying. He knelt down in front of me, grabbed my hands and said, “Father give me your blessing.” I was 25 years old. The Bishop was 60 and had been a priest for over thirty years. It felt strange, especially with the lady watching us. Apparently, she found this little bit of drama more interesting than the candles. When I had finished blessing him, the bishop grabbed my hands and kissed the open palm of each hand where they had been anointed. The bishop was crying, I was crying and the old Haitian lady was crying. The lady, whose name I later learned was Marie, then fell to her knees and said, “mon petit pere, benyi moi, si vous plait.” Which is, “my little Father, give me your blessing.” I blessed her but again, it was strange, here was this 80 year old woman, on her knees, being blessed by a 25 year old boy. She then grabbed my hands and kissed my open palms.

II. The rest of the story
The story does not end there. Marie would come to mass every week and after mass she would wait for me in the candle room. I would give here a blessing and she would kiss my palms. After about six months of priesthood, I was going through a very difficult time. It was the only time in my 22 years of priesthood that I had ever considered leaving. I was depressed and frustrated and exhausted. That Sunday, after mass, I was making my way back to the sacristy when Marie pulled me into the candle room. This week, for some reason and for the only time in three years, she didn’t kneel….

The email address to request to be put on Vallee’s email distribution list is Cioran262@aol.com. To see the entire homily click on ‘read more.’ Search for other Fr Vallee homilies in this blog by entering ‘Vallee’ in the search box in the upper left hand corner.

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I. Mother’s Day/Ordinations
Today, I went to the ordination of three priests at the Cathedral. As you may know, the “form” of ordination is Bishop’s Prayer of Consecration. The “matter” of ordination is the laying on of hands. First the bishops, then the priests, each, touch the men to be ordained. I was ordained 22 years ago next Saturday. That day, 22 years ago, is kind of a blur to me. But one thing stands out clearly. As soon as the ceremony was over, Bishop Dorsey pulled me aside. I had lived with Bishop Dorsey for two years before being ordained a priest, one as a seminarian and one as a deacon. He brought me into the candle room where a little Haitian lady was praying. He knelt down in front of me, grabbed my hands and said, “Father give me your blessing.” I was 25 years old. The Bishop was 60 and had been a priest for over thirty years. It felt strange, especially with the lady watching us. Apparently, she found this little bit of drama more interesting than the candles. When I had finished blessing him, the bishop grabbed my hands and kissed the open palm of each hand where they had been anointed. The bishop was crying, I was crying and the old Haitian lady was crying. The lady, whose name I later learned was Marie, then fell to her knees and said, “mon petit pere, benyi moi, si vous plait.” Which is, “my little Father, give me your blessing.” I blessed her but again, it was strange, here was this 80 year old woman, on her knees, being blessed by a 25 year old boy. She then grabbed my hands and kissed my open palms.

II. The rest of the story
The story does not end there. Marie would come to mass every week and after mass she would wait for me in the candle room. I would give here a blessing and she would kiss my palms. After about six months of priesthood, I was going through a very difficult time. It was the only time in my 22 years of priesthood that I had ever considered leaving. I was depressed and frustrated and exhausted. That Sunday, after mass, I was making my way back to the sacristy when Marie pulled me into the candle room. This week, for some reason and for the only time in three years, she didn’t kneel. Instead, she told me to kneel. As I knelt, she put her hands on my head, whispered in Creole and blessed me, over and over and over again, she whispered and blessed me. I tried to get up but she was tough for 80 years old. She then looked me right in the eye and said, “bon courage, mon petit pere. Mwen priye pou vous chaque jour, chaque jour.” Which means, “have courage little Father. I pray for you everyday, every day.” People often say that sort of thing but when you looked into Marie’s eyes, you know she meant it. When she was done, I embarrassed her by taking each one of her hands and kissing them right on the palms. I am fairly well convinced that I am still a priest today because of one stubborn old Haitian lady who prayed for me chaque jour, everyday. I buried her a few years lady. But I am willing to bet that she is still keeping her promise to me and “elle priye pour mwen chaque jour.” I’ll bet she is still praying for me every day in heaven.

III. Conclusion
The Gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the vine and we are the branches. The idea being that we cannot get to Father except through Christ. And, if we are connected to Christ, we are necessarily connected to one another, just as all the branches of a vine are connected. Today at the Cathedral, the Archbishop and hundreds of priests touched three young men on the head and, by that physical touch, they were made priests. Jesus Christ is the vine and we are the branches; we are all physically connected. I have not mentioned mothers’ day but it is almost too obvious an application. Marie was a mother in the best sense of the word. Encourage your children. Most importantly, pray for them chaque jour, every day. Let us ask the Mother of our Lord, to bless and protect each of our mothers … Hail Mary …
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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