|Fr. Aaron final English Mass at JP II with Fr. Steve|
|Sharing a moment together after the Baptism|
|Graduates at BTC|
There are many aspects of missionary priesthood that appear the same as any priest: we offer Mass, administer the sacraments of baptism, communion, confession, matrimony and the anointing of the sick. We accompany folks through all sorts of challenges and joys. So what makes this missionary call different from others? It is where, how and what of sharing Christ with others
Our missionary priesthood is shared in rural areas of the United States only. Three years ago neither county had a Catholic worshipping community. Three years ago, many of the people now regulars at Sunday Mass, were not even Catholics or were not practicing on a regular bases. Three years ago, no one in Union County,TN would imagine that three ministers from other Christian churches and the Bishop of Knoxville would gather in the downtown park with over 200 quests to celebrate a Catholic Mass of thanksgiving. Three years ago, no Catholic priest ate lunch with High Schooler's in Grainger County or Middle Schoolers in Union County.
|25th Anniversay, Fr. Steve's Parents in front|
|Pastor Ryan and the Bishop at the 25th Anniversary|
|Fr. Aaron hanging out with the youth|
The fact that two priests have been in two counties where a priest never lived before does make a difference even if it is for just a few people.
|Fr. Aaron's Appreciation Day|
The how of priesthood is very focused on the people. Every one has a spiritual journey, whether Catholic, Baptist, or of no faith. A missionary priest listens, encourages and where necessary challenges. A missionary priests engages people in their every day lives, going to sports event, visiting people in homes, talking to folks in the stores and businesses. Every thing is done with the hope that by your presence folks encounter a loving Jesus who wants to be not only their Savior, but also, their brother.
|Sing to the Lord|
The how means trying to promote the reign of God in the full community beyond the Catholic church walls. Thus, time spent in helping feed the poor, promoting immigration reform, and searching for ways to help people avoid addictions, especially to drugs and alcohol are part of the life. The how is any way in which being a friend, a guide or a healer for another can be done in the Spirit of Christ, we will try.
|Food for those in need|
|Dancing with Mom|
So I am very grateful for the gifts of missionary priesthood Fr. Aaron brought to Union and Grainger County. Likewise, I am grateful for 25 years of service of priesthood in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee as well as various places beyond. I am grateful for the Glenmary community. Most of all, I am grateful to Jesus Christ for loving me, dying for me, forgiving me and saving me. Hey, what could be greater?