Remembering incredible, often forgotten journeys

A few weeks ago, the Providence Journal ran a column about the experience visiting an elderly parent. The columnist, like so many of us, recognized how much lies beneath an older person's aged appearance or physical ability. In those few minutes with his mother, he remembered her extraordinary work as a female journalist in Paris following World War II.

Surrounded by her grandchildren and sharing the story of her life, something clicked when the columnist looked at his son, a foreign correspondent in Africa. They shared a unique bond across three generations through journalism.

How often do we pause to reflect and look deeper in the lives of the aging? In my work with the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust, I visit our senior priests including the 54 at Regina Cleri and 150 living independently. While each priest amazes me with his incredible stories, they are not surrounded by children and grandchildren who share their life's journey.

On their journeys of faith, these men quietly embodied devoted service to people most in need. In our parishes, they strengthened families as they baptized, married and buried our grandparents. They ministered to our parents and they are still here for us today. Answering the needs of people everywhere, they became missionaries in remote regions of South America and chaplains to the brave men and women of our armed forces around the world. They responded to tragedies you read about in the paper but you never read about them. Wherever ministry took them, our priests always returned ready to accompany us at life's most important moments.

Priests share a special commitment to service. They want neither credit nor recognition for their life's work; however, as they accompanied us on the journey of faith, today, they need our support. This Christmas, the special collection at every Mass helps sustain our beloved priests in their vocations. It provides for their health and wellbeing as they continue their incredible journey.

I ask you to remember the priests in your life and consider making a gift to the Christmas special collection.