The Spring semester has begun and is almost a month old. I have six classes again this semester, of which Johannine Literature is my favorite. This class explains the writings of St. John the Evangelist, including his Gospel, his three letters and Revelation.
I am so fortunate to have professor Fr. Pablo Gadenz who recently had a book published on his study of the Gospel of Luke. I recognize that things such as this are a blessing from God which will help me in my future ministry as a priest.
I am also starting to learn about the preaching aspect as one of my classes is called Introduction to Preaching. As I progress through these classes I see the Lord starting to prepare me in concrete ways for the everyday aspects of my ministry.
However, I would say that some of the greatest blessings I have received in this year of Second Theology are the experiences I have had at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson. My classmates in Second Theology and I go to this hospital every Tuesday during the Fall and Spring semesters. There are different units that we are able to experience and we choose a different one each month. I have ministered in the Emergency Room and in the Critical Care Building(their name for ICU).
I am now assigned to shadow the on-call priest for the month of February. During this time I follow the priest around to the rooms of various patients as he visits those who are on his list. Every patient receives a visit regardless of their faith tradition. The priest talks to the patients and asks them how they are doing and offers to pray with them. If they are Catholic he also administers the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist.
During my last two visits to the hospital, I was able to visit a few patients on my own after following the priest around for most of the afternoon. I had two wonderful experiences in particular while visiting these patients. It is uncomfortable at first while going in to visit people I have never met before but after talking to them I see what a privilege it is to be with people in a vulnerable time in their life. I also realize that as I bring them my presence and my prayers now, one day I will be able to also bring them Jesus Christ Himself in the sacraments of healing that the Church offers to the faithful. May we recognize the wonderful gifts Christ gives to us in the Church and in those around us who are in need of our loving concern.