This Saturday, the people of God in the Diocese of Tulsa were given a beautiful and wonderful Gift. Kerry Wakulich offered himself to our service as a priest in our Diocese. I thought this might be an opportunity to offer some reflections on this gift which Fr. Kerry Wakulich has offered and, maybe, clear up any misconceptions about what he has done and will do for us.
Fr. Kerry, as all priests, have taken a vow of Celibacy. I know that many of our Protestant brothers and sisters think that priests should be married and see this as a terrible sacrifice that is unnecessary. Personally, I believe it is such a wonderful gift that is freely offered to all of us as the people of God and would be tragic to see it change. In my view, it is like a man offering a woman an engagement ring, that through such sacrifice he has purchased the most beautiful diamonds he could find, the finest gold, and, presenting it to her, she demands that he exchange it for quartz and iron. The gift represents his sacrifice, his love and should be joyfully accepted in appreciation for how much he loves her. Fr. Kerry has done just that, offered the very best of himself, his heart and soul, and his chance to carry on his name. I am proud to accept his gift.
In our society, we define ourselves by our children carrying on our name. We are immortal because our family name lives on long after we are gone. When a man chooses to forsake this definition of immortality, which has been around since the beginning of time, he puts all his faith in the Resurrection, the Promise that Christ has given us, and makes himself a beacon of the life to come instead of the here and now. Think of it, in ancient cultures, when a man is completely punished, his family is punished as well. When a man is utterly destroyed, his family is destroyed with him. The ultimate historical punishment was, not simply to kill a man, but to kill his children as well, particularly his sons! This is even seen in modern times in China where, with the “One Child Policy”, female children are killed because they do not have the ability to carry on the family name.
Now, in the modern Catholic Church, in the Latin Rite, a priest forsakes having children, taking a wife and companion for the opportunity to give his gift of faith to the faithful. There is no “safety net” for Fr. Kerry, he will not hedge his bet by having children “just in case”, he places all his chips on the bet that Christ promises him an eternity with him. This is not an idle boast for Fr. Kerry (or any of the other priests and brothers in our diocese and across the globe), but this is the promise that he has placed all his faith in so that we can believe that what he preaches is true. Fr. Kerry does not simply preach the Resurrection but we can believe because he is proving it by his life.
Thank you, Fr. Kerry, for your gift. You join, hand in hand, with all the priests that we remember fondly over the course of our lives (Frs. Joe, Denis, Ian, Boniface and Lawrence O.S.B., Frs. Morgan, Gerlach, Knipe, Pickett, and Bernie Schmidt, Frs. Ed, Vern and Joe Tuoc Nugyen S.J., and the list goes on – we all have our private lists).
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