Something old, something new. Forever a priest.

by Fr. Jeff

“Where are we going?”

It was the usual lunch routine: the pastor and I decide to go for lunch, he starts driving, and he asks that question.

Today, we were on highway 26, and the end of town was quickly approaching. He threw out an unexpected proposal: “How about Waffle House? I want a pecan waffle.”

Never in my 7 months here had we gone to Waffle House. “Sure, I love waffles.”

Sticking with the trend, I tried something new: “I’ll have an apple cinnamon oat waffle.”

Delicious.

As we stood up from the table, my phone rang. “Father, can you come to the ER?”

“I’ll be right there.”

“Do you want to go together?” the pastor asked. “Sure,” I said. “If you don’t need to be anywhere right now.” As we pulled into the parking lot, he reached into the console and pulled out his book, oils, and a purple stole.

Something old.

Their age was obvious. The book was covered in oil stains; its pages were wrinkled. The oil stock was brass and well worn. The stole was seasoned; it had seen its share of emergencies.

I first encountered his sick call kit last summer. They struck me right away. “These have been used hundreds of times and helped bring healing and comfort to hundreds of people.”

Then he handed them to me.

As I took them from his hand, I paused. The master was handing his tools to the apprentice.

Something new.

I’ve made dozens of trips to the hospital. But this memory will stick with me. It was the first time I led. There, at the bedside, I began the Anointing of the Sick. He followed along.

Sometimes, You remind me of my new life as a priest. Today, You called me to reflect on that reality.

As we got back into the car, I placed the kit back in the console. You reminded me clearly: on June 11, 2011, my life changed forever.

Something old, something new. Forever a priest.