March 1, 2019

Reflection / Fr. Joseph Moriarty

Despite brokenness in world, let us embrace our faith even more

For 25 years, I have been a priest of this archdiocese and have only written for The Criterion in my previous ministry as archdiocesan vocations director. But I was happy to respond to their invitation as rector of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis to offer a reflection on the current state of our Church.

Providentially, the other night as I sat in adoration, I believe I truly felt the Lord convicting me to write and share my thoughts.

I do not believe I am an expert at anything. I like to sing, but I cannot read music well. I enjoy fishing, but I am not an avid fisherman. I enjoy making and sharing family recipes, but I am no chef or master baker. I try to be a good Christian, and I take seriously my promise at ordination to conform my life to Christ as a Catholic priest, but I acknowledge I am a sinner.

My vocation to the priesthood was inspired by my parent’s marriage of 59 years. I observed in Mom and Dad’s marriage that when things got rough, they never fled but committed themselves more deeply to what they loved, namely God, their nine children, the Church and each other.

I love being a priest, and I believe the world needs priests because I know the world needs the Eucharist. Without the Eucharist (God’s presence in the world), I believe the world would be in a worse state than it is, and we all know it is in a pretty bad state.

Similarly, our Church struggles with sin. Failed leadership and broken trust among clergy has wreaked havoc in the lives of too many, and just when we think it cannot get worse, it does.

I do not have answers to all these issues, but I sense God most calling me in this time to embrace my call to the priesthood and pour myself ever more deeply into this vocation I love and believe in. Thus, I pray! For victims, I pray! For God’s people, “the Church,” I pray! For bishops and for priests, healthy and hurting, sinful and broken, I pray!

Of course, there are other things I can do in this difficult climate in our Church. I can seek to celebrate the sacraments more reverently and authentically, because as previously mentioned, our world needs God, and sacraments mediate God’s salvation. I can also share hope with others.

I see hope daily alive in so many I work with and encounter, but especially in the 39 college seminarians I am privileged to live with and minister to at Bishop Bruté. I am edified daily by the witness of faith in these men.

Be it in a formation conference or sitting quietly with them in adoration, I see men who love God, love the Church and desire to love God’s people who are the Church. I see men who are authentically seeking to grow to the true potential of who God calls them to be.

We live in a broken world, but amid this brokenness we are ever called as Christians to fall more in love with God, and in Christian charity to help and love one another.

This year has not been an easy year for the seminarians of Bishop Bruté. Beyond the deplorable, heinous and reprehensible behavior of some bishops and priests, the seminary community has grieved the loss of its spiritual director, Father Thomas Widner, a Jesuit priest who served Bishop Bruté for close to eight years and passed away unexpectedly last summer. Our lives are not the same without him. In all this scandal and loss, the seminarians carry on.

When others might discern to flee the Church or at least question his or her relationship to the Church, these men are trusting God and embracing the Church more. To these men and all of us on this path of Christianity I say, thank you, keep going and stay faithful. Your example and witness matters.

(Father Joseph Moriarty is rector of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.)

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