These Hands: 74 Baptisms, 12 Weddings, 5 Funerals

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By Matthew Janeczko, OFM Cap.

The day has finally come for me to leave the best thing (after my own reception of the sacraments) that has ever happened to me: the Catholic Parishes of Saint Brigid, Gate of Heaven, and Saint Monica-Saint Augustine in South Boston.

The picture above, at least to some extent, tells the story of my time here.  This afternoon, I spent a period of time copying the names of each person I baptized, each couple whose marriage vows I witnessed, and each person I buried into this book.  It’s a practice that I’ve endeavored to undertake: to write, from now until the Lord calls me home, the names of each person I baptize, each couple whose vows I witness, each Christian I bury, each newly ordained priest upon whose head I lay my hands, and each person I confirm in the Spirit.

I hope and pray that, please God, I fill many books with these names, for when I die, more than anything else, it will be these books that I leave my brother friars, allowing a series of scribbled names to tell the story of my life as a priest: a man who though possessing simple and sinful hands, attempted to devote his life, in all of its imperfection and impetuousness, to the service of his sisters and brothers in Christ.

In a sense, then, my hope in writing down these names is that those whose names I have written and proceed me into life in the Lord will, upon being summoned by Saint Peter, testify to the fact that though I wasn’t a perfect priest, I was faithful in using the gift of ordination given to me by the Lord for their benefit.

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