Homily Given on 25th Anniversary

translated by Fr. George Harkins, SDB

Mass in the auditorium of Seminaire Salésien in Sherbrooke, Que., attended by 400 students and staff on June 5, 2018.

I have been a Salesian priest for 25 years.

“We do not witness this kind of event very often nowadays! Let’s celebrate!” This is the remark I have heard from several people. Some even dare to ask me, “Why did you become a priest?” Let me help you to understand why.

In the gospel which I just proclaimed, Jesus placed a little child in front of his disciples and said, “He who receives a child in my name receives me.”

I was probably such a child! My parents (Lyse and Gilles) welcomed me and loved me in an extraordinary way. I was their child and the only boy. I was their “teddy bear.” But I was soon spoiled with the arrival of my two sisters (Suzanne and Nathalie). I became their teasing brother, but not overly so. They are now mothers. Thanks to them I am now an uncle five times.

Born in Sherbrooke on June 28, 1964. I attended the Carillon grade school near my home, then the Salesian high school, followed by junior college and Sherbrooke University. Like many young people, my high school years were the most significant for my personal formation.

While in high school I came to know several good teachers as well as some edifying Salesian religious. Each of the Salesians had a close relationship with the students of the school. We felt loved, valued, and appreciated. I recall here this phrase of Jesus: “Jesus called a child and placed him in the midst of his disciples and said: change and become as this child.” Why does Jesus say that? I believe that is due to the simplicity, the unpretentious nature of a child, as well as his joyful attitude. The Salesians whom I was often among possessed these qualities. They inspired me very much.

Fr. Richard Authier, SDB, knew me quite well. One day while we were talking, he asked me directly, “Alain! Did you ever think of becoming a priest?” I was 19 years of age and a member of a group of alumni who met once a month. At that time, I was studying in the School of Administration, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Thus, it was then that I started a vocational discernment process with Fr. Richard in order to deepen this question. I began to pray for guidance. This was a new challenge for me. I believed in God but not more than that.

In today’s reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he writes, “In all circumstances, pray and make your requests known to God.” My prayer became: “Lord, what do you want from me? Show me the way.” I repeated that request quite often, almost like a mantra! One month later, while I was praying with my eyes closed and in a semi-conscious state, I was surprised to see myself walking on a path toward a church. I went in, and it was as if the people who were gathered there were waiting for me. They encouraged me to advance so as to speak to them. I did not have anything to say, however. Then I looked up toward the ceiling of this church. I saw the face of a man who said to me, “Do not be afraid; trust in me.” Experts call this a spiritual experience. I believe that it was in this way (certainly a convincing element) that the Lord was calling me. This was a sign to me that God was manifesting Himself in my life. To His call I said: “YES.” So, here I am! It is due to this experience that I became a Salesian priest.

Here I am 25 years down the road, and the Lord has not abandoned me. I enjoy accompanying young people. I try to live among them as Jesus did by striving to be present to their preoccupations as well as by loving what they love. Thank you to each one of you for permitting me to become a little more foolish each day.

I thank my parents and my family, who always encouraged me along my way. I thank my Salesian community for sending me to Rome to complete my studies in preparation for the priesthood. Finally, I thank all the staff at our Salesian school in Sherbrooke, who have coached me over these last 25 years as a religion teacher and pastoral animator in first and second year high school.

I say thank you to all these people, but most especially to the Lord Jesus. If I have been able to say and accomplish anything over these last 25 years, it is because I wanted to give God the first place. Often when I pray, now I say: “ Not I Lord, but You; use me to bring the young closer to your Kingdom so that they may be fulfilled and happy.” It is St. Paul who adds: “Always be joyful. Let me repeat, live in joy.” Not a joy where you laugh and have fun, but the joy of knowing that the Lord loves you and lives within you. It is He who energizes you and raises you up. Once again St. Paul confirms this when he says: “All that you have received and learned, all that you have seen and heard from me, put it into practice, and the God of peace will be with you.” I try to live this as best I can. This makes me happy! I feel that I am already living in the kingdom!

Jesus says to us in the Scriptures, “You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.” This is your mission.

When you are with people, be yourself so that they will appreciate your presence and feel good about themselves. Light up their eyes so that they know that you are there to encourage, to congratulate, and to compliment them.

Don Bosco often said to his young people: “Prova di farti amare” (“Strive to make yourself loved”). This is not always easy. We all have our defects. All we can do is to ask for forgiveness so as to get back on the right track.

In conclusion, I ask you to pray for me by saying, for example, “Lord, help Alain to continue to do good in your name.” It will give me energy for another 25 years! AMEN!

September 6, 2018 - 10:49am

Latest Posts

Salesian Summer of Service

This is being offered by the SLM program and OYM. Read more

Vocational Pathways for Discernment

Explore a general “pathway” of opportunities offered to young people by our province's Salesian Family. Read more

This Earth Day, Consider a Preparation for a Happy Death

This Earth Day, I invite you to consider how you live out this Salesian poverty. Read more

Subscribe to Blog
  • 1 of 610
Designed & Powered by On Fire Media |