Today, more specifically this afternoon at 4:30PM Mass, is going to be a Mass filled with mixed emotions. My boss, the pastor of our flock at St. Mary Magdalen, will be saying his last Mass this afternoon at St. Mary Magdalen as he is being transferred to St. Ambrose (on the Hill). I say mixed emotions because I excited for him to be heading back to the parish of his mother’s youth. I am excited for St. Mary Magdalen because in his place we are getting a very humble and holy man in Msgr. Timothy Cronin. But in the midst of that joy for both of us, it is hard to let go of a man who in my estimation is probably one of the most holy priests I’ve met in my lifetime. He is true Shepherd of his flock and in my 11 years of working with him, I’ve come to believe beyond a shadow of doubt, he was put on this earth to guide the flock and give them a living example of what it is to truly follow Christ and His Church.
Fr. Siefert gives of himself wholly and without reservation to teach the flock he has been blessed to shepherd. St. Mary Magdalen has been blessed with many great men to lead our congregation. From the day he set foot on our parish grounds, Fr. Siefert was dedicated to making St. Mary Magdalen a better place. Here is just a short list of what he has accomplished in his 11 years…
Renovations to the entire property to include updating the Rectory, a full renovation of the Church, numerous improvements to the school building and his latest accomplishment was completing the Dominican Garden.
He changed the Mass schedule on Sunday’s to better accommodate the parish.
He added a daily Noon Mass for the business people in the area to have a place to go and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice on their lunch hour.
He added a daily 5:30 PM daily Mass for people to have a chance to offer praise to God and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice at the end of their work day.
He offered the Sacrament of confession before and after each of these Masses so people could receive that Sacrament on a daily basis.
He honored Holy Week by telling the parishes all activities during the Triduum will cease so everyone had the opportunity to participate in Holy Week.
He began a Tenebrae Service during Holy Week. It was a real “bang” with the congregation 🙂
He renovated the St. Joseph Chapel and made it a place where people could go to at any time of the day or night and spend time in prayer with the Blessed Sacrament.
This man, Fr. Jack Siefert, was a blessing for St. Mary Magdalen. He will be a blessing for St. Ambrose. So this afternoon, I am reminded of the bittersweet line from Job…”The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Lord!” I will end the blog today with Bishop Barren’s reflection because I believe it sums up who the man Jack Siefert is and I will also end by saying a simple thanks to both God for blessing our parish with this holy man and to Fr. Siefert for not only answering the call from God to be a priest, but for being that “window” for me in which I was able to see Christ in all of His glory.
From Bishop Barren:
Friends, today’s Gospel passage acclaims a centurion’s trust in the Lord Jesus. To trust is to have hope, to turn one’s heart to God. It means to root one’s life, to ground and center one’s concerns, in God. And oppositely, to trust and to turn one’s heart to human beings means to root the whole of one’s life, to ground and center one’s concerns, in the things of this world: in wealth, fame, power, honor, or pleasure.
What is the center of gravity of your life? What is your “ultimate concern”? The Bible consistently lays this out as an either/or. Think of the passage in the book of Joshua, when Joshua lays it on the line for the people of Israel: “Do you serve the Lord or some other gods?”
Jesus tells his followers, “Either you are with me or you are against me.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that we each have to answer this question with great honesty and clarity.
Do something great for our Lord today – follow the example of Fr. Siefert and say YES to His Holy Will for you. Be that man of God the Church so desperately needs today.
I firmly resolve, with the Help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.
But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.
God Bless you Fr. Siefert…you may not be physically in our presence but you will always remain in our thoughts and prayers.