It has become tradition to stop in Steubenville, Ohio on the way home from the March for Life to visit Franciscan University and attend Mass there. I love this stop. The students are so on fire with their faith. There aren't many places where multiple daily masses are offered and each filled to overflowing with enthusiastic believers. And priests too -- there were eight priests and one deacon at the Mass we attended. The one deacon was our own Deacon Jerry. Here is Deacon Jerry's reflection on that Mass:
Visiting a place like Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS), even briefly, is not unlike the experience of Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration, or any good retreat experience. These experiences are 'mountains' in our lives where God's presence is felt. It is those places where we, like the disciples, want to pitch tents and stay. At some point though, we accept that we have to leave the mountain and return to real life. The mountain is a place we go to recharge, but I'm not sure we have to leave it. It is there whenever we see the Holy Spirit alive in another.
I was blessed to be able to assist at Mass on our return trip. The distribution of Holy Eucharist was particularly moving. The faces of FUS students and our own crew glowed with the Holy Spirit. It made it difficult at times to announce the words "the Body of Christ." The experience was a reminder that there are plenty of people in this world who are alive with the Spirit. I don't often see that among the people in my daily work, but I was reminded that they are here among us. They carry the mountain with them. We are all called to be that alive with the Spirit. What a great sign for the world!
As a final note, the warm welcome from the Steubies (as Maureen calls them) took me by surprise. I was introduced at the Mass, and warmly welcomed by the congregation. Being new to the role of clergy, it is good to know that even people who don't encounter deacons frequently recognize our reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders as a gift from God.