For the past six years I have attended Theological College, the National Seminary of the Catholic University of America. We always opened the year with the celebration of Mass. After the homily the new seminarians are called out by name and respond, “present.” The seminarian goes forward and writes his name in a book and is welcomed on behalf of the community by the rector. I remember well the day I said “present” and was warmly welcomed to Theological College. As I draw close to Ordination to the Priesthood I am preparing once again to say “present” to Bishop Cunningham and the people of the Diocese of Syracuse. I have come to understand my time in the seminary, and indeed the rest of my life, as a time in which I am called say present. To be present to the Church, my diocese, my bishop, my brother priests, the People of God, but most importantly, to say and be present to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Movements of the Holy Spirit that have formed and shaped me into the person I am today and have drawn me in an intimate way to the priesthood of Christ and the mystery of the Eucharist. Indeed, the time I have spent in the diocese and seminary through the many blessings of the formation program, the academics, the formative pastoral assignments, mentors, advisors, spiritual directors, invaluable friendships, and ultimately the blessings of Jesus Christ have shaped me into a man who desires always to say present and to be present. Present at the altar, in the confessional, and with the sick. Present in prayer and solidarity with those we serve – present when the blessings of God are great and when the sorrow is overwhelming. Present with people so as to bring the presence of Christ to them in their joys and sorrows, in their hopes and in their pain, and in our ultimate need, to dwell within the love that is God himself. I pray, for my classmate and I, that we may always be present before this tremendous gift, that God who has begun this good work within us will bring it to fulfillment for His glory and the sanctification of the Christian people.
Deacon Peter Tassini
12 May 2016