I was ordained a priest on May 18,1996. I left the seminary full of fire and zeal. I just had one problem, I had a hard time saying no. I would say yes to every request. I found myself close to being burnt out.
I remember I went my first year as a priest and never took a day off. I was waiting for my pastor to say, “Stefan I noticed that you never take a day off I think you ought to.” I learned that that day would never come. I quickly realized that I needed to take better care of my self.
My first parish was a busy parish. But after 2 years I found myself burnt out. I remember getting a letter in the mail from the bishop. It was a standard letter asking the priests if they would like to move and why. I felt I needed a new change to recharge my spiritual batteries.
I returned the letter to the chancery saying that I needed a change. In a sense to begin A-New. I got another letter from the chancery asking me to state more reasons. I sent that letter in. A couple of days later I got a call to have an appointment with the bishop.
During this time two things happened. One was a novena to St Therese and the other was getting Acts 16 6-9 everywhere. I came across this scripture when I opened up the bible at random, in homilies, on the radio, in short everywhere. In this reading, Paul is prevented by the Holy Spirit from going to Asia, and he was prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching in Bithynia but “during the night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
I understood the reading as directed towards me. I saw myself in the place of Paul. I understood the two letters that I had written as connected to the Holy Spirit preventing Paul from preaching, but then an Angel appeared to Paul opening a door for him to come to Macedonia. I was going to meet the Bishop and he was going to let me move.
I was standing in the bishop’s office fully expecting him to let me move. The bishop response was, “No be a Man.” I remember being confused not sure that I had another year in me in the priesthood.
During this time also I was praying a Novena to St Therese. I remember on the ninth day of the Novena I did a wedding. At the reception there was a Rose on my plate. I was sure that St Therese answered my prayer. I remember calling a priest friend telling him that the bishop said no. My priest friend’s response was “St Therese answered your prayer.”
These events took place in March of 1998. Something unexpected happened the next month. The bishop unexpectedly died in Rome. I am not saying that my prayers caused the death of the Bishop.
I remember it was my birthday May 11, 1998 and the phone rang. I picked it up. It was the priest who took the bishop’s place while we waited for a new bishop from Rome. He said to me, “Fr Stefan how long have you been at your parish?” I said 2 years. He said “can you do me a favor can you go to this parish?”
In June I was moved and I Got the fresh start that I needed. I believe that this actually saved my Vocation.
This story has always reminded me that Jesus is Lord of the Church. And Yes even a Bishop can not stop the movements of the Holy Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit and Renew the face of the Church