during special 'Ritual for the
Receiving of a Missionary'
By David Myers
Southwest Kansas Register
Father Jimmy Barrozo, a priest from the Diocese of Sorsogon in the Philippines, was visibly moved when representatives from parishes in Meade, Fowler, and Plains warmly accepted him “into their midst” with a round of applause during a special Mass Jan. 24.
At St. John the Baptist Church in Meade, “Father Jimmy” was officially welcomed by Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore at the special "Ritual for the Receiving of a Missionary," as parochial administrator of St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Patrick Parish, Plains, and St. Anthony Parish in Fowler.
The Mass was followed by a dinner reception in which parishioners provided many different mouth watering meals and desserts.
The day’s Gospel reading, Father Jimmy told those gathered at the Mass, was the very same one used when he was ordained.
“So, when I was reading the Gospel, it brought to me memories of my ordination 18 years ago in the Philippines,” he told the congregation. “I can still see myself there in the sanctuary in front of my ordaining bishop -- a young priest, traveling in Christ, overwhelmed by the feeling of unworthiness, yet, filled with desire to join Jesus in his mission ….
“I was then a young romantic, simply in love with Jesus, recklessly making my vows to my bishop and promising to give to Jesus all my being, my will, my mind, my memory, all that I own and possess. … Look where those vows led me. In God’s amazing ways they brought me to this foreign land, and they brought me to you.
“So brothers and sisters, … I say again, I am overwhelmed by the feeling of unworthiness; I will beg the Lord to help me to be able to … serve you, my new people -- my new flock -- with all my being, to love you with all my heart, and to be able to lead you all closer to Jesus our Lord.
“Thank you very much, dear bishop Gilmore, for putting your trust in me. And thank you my dear people, for accepting me into your midst.”
In Bishop Gilmore’s homily, he referred to the first reading, from the Book of Nehemaih, when Ezra the scribe opens the scroll “so that all could see it.” In the scroll, the bishop said, was the source of blessing for the Hebrew people.
“What did they do? They said ‘Amen.’ Amen. Let it be so. Let the words in that scroll come to pass. Then they bowed down to the earth and they prostrated themselves between Ezra and the scroll. Finally, they listened attentively as Ezra read from the book of the law.
“There was much reverence there in that scene, as you can imagine. There was a remarkable receptiveness … to the word of God. Now, tonight, if we jump across the centuries … we see that the law so prized -- so esteemed in the time of Ezra -- we see that the law became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. We need to look upon him as the people looked upon that opened scroll. …We need to listen attentively to him, to his words, to his thoughts, to his dispositions, to his actions. … There should be wide, wide receptivity to the word of God made man.
“…Father Jimmy has come to read the law to you as Ezra did to his people. He has come to proclaim this word to you. He has come to open the mystery of Jesus Christ to you and to invite you into that fathomless mystery. ...You could have no better priest, friend of God, than Jimmy Barossa, who has come from afar.”
The bishop said that in a world plagued by noisy preoccupation – television, radio, the “thousands of grasping tentacles of the Internet” – individuals risk becoming slaves of noise, “unable to hear the silence sounding all around us, sounding within us.”
The bishop urged those gathered to put away their remote controls and to listen so that they can “hear the personal call spoken to each one of us in eternal silence….
“So, Father Jimmy, I would ask you to teach your people, these people here, these people from the other two parishes, teach your people to love silence. That’s the same thing really as teaching them how to pray….”
Following Mass, an abundance of delicious meals, prepared by the parishioners, were served to Father Jimmy, Bishop Gilmore and many hungry people celebrating their new priest. (When Bishop Gilmore jokingly asked a little girl if he could have her hotdog, she flatly refused and gobbled it down. Moments after dinner, though, a tiny hand slipped a brand new hotdog onto the table beside the bishop, who laughed with delight, and told the little girl that he was now too full to eat it.)
It was a fine welcome for Father Jimmy, whose new congregation welcomed him not only to their parish cluster, but, as it was his first trip to this country, to the Unites States as well, showing him the true warmth of the people of southwest Kansas.