Reflecting on My Ordination to the Priesthood on the Feast of Saint Melangell

An Icon of Saint Melangell created on the Island of Mull by the monks of Mull Monastery.

 A blessed Feast of Saint Melangell to you and yours in this year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-four!

It was nineteen years ago today that I became a priest within the Free Catholic tradition. I was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Archbishop Robert M. Bowman and Bishop Larry Cameron, of the United Catholic Church, on May 27, 2005, the Feast of Saint Melangell. The ordination took place at Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church, the church of my baptism and confirmation, surrounded by friends, family, and members of my ministry from the four corners of the country.

In many ways it seems like a lifetime ago and in some ways it seems like just yesterday.  The experience of the passing of time is odd, especially as one ages.  The ebb and flow of time seems to move as it will, where it will; collecting in reflective pools of memories, or perhaps murky swamps of vague recollections, and sometimes dangerous riptides of regret.

When I first began to sense my calling, I immediately told my mentor and friend, Fr. James Martin, an Episcopal priest of blessed memory.  His initial response was "what took you so long to figure that out?!"  Before I would start my discernment process for the priesthood he gave me some good advice.  He said, "Brian, if you can do anything else with your life, go do it and don't become a priest. Only follow this path if you absolutely cannot turn away from it."   He knew first hand that the priesthood was not for the faint of heart and that it was simultaneously a heartbreaking and heart-healing vocation.

While I thank God for my calling, I still question God sometimes why He called me and why He wouldn't let me go.  I also thank God for my mentorship and friendship with Fr. Martin, who was one of the most Godly men I have ever encountered.

I am a terrible priest and that is not false humility, just a simple reality.  Too often I fail and I am strong willed when it comes to listening to the gentle call of the Holy Spirit.  More than I care to admit, I want things my own way without a thought for what God wants for me and sadly, sometimes I allow my passions and ego rule my life instead of giving myself over to the simple obedience and grace of Christ. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my priesthood.

There's traditional prayer to God and Saint Melangell whenever one sees a hare hopping about, "May God and St. Melangell save thee and may a thousand angels guide your steps!"

A self-indulgent prayer for myself on this auspicious day: May God and St. Melangell save this Br'er Abbot and may a thousand angels guide my steps!