Third Sunday of Easter
40th Anniversary Forty years ago on April 30th, 1982, I was ordained to the Priesthood for the Diocese of Rochester at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Brighton, NY. I remember the great blessings I felt as I laid prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary as all those gathered in the church that day sang the Litany of Saints asking for all the holy men and women who have gone before us to intercede for us, and for me who was about to be ordained. I remember being overwhelmed with a sense of the love of God’s people on earth and in heaven. I felt like I was experiencing the Communion of Saints! I remember the feeling of being touched by the love of the Holy Spirit as Bishop Matthew Clark and all the priests prayed over me, and as Bishop Clark laid his hands on my head in the imposition of hands. Then, one by one, each of the other priests did likewise. The outpouring of the Spirit upon me that day made me think of how Elisha the prophet must have felt when his predecessor Elijah anointed him with oil and asked that God would send a double portion of his spirit upon him. I felt greatly blessed!
I thank God for all the people who helped me grow in my faith, especially my parents, Nan and Roy Moorby, and my Godmother Mary Cook. They got me started in the ways of the faith. I thank as well the many people who helped me to discern the calling to the priesthood, especially, the members of the St. Pius X Prayer Group in Chili, NY. I began attending weekly meetings of the Prayer Group when I was in my mid-twenties. I never dreamed that I would become a priest at that time in my life, but I did begin seeking guidance from God as to what God wanted me to do. At that point in my life I had been graduated from the RIT School of Business, I had served in the U.S. Army for two years, and I was at the time working as a Produce Manger at the Spencerport Big M in Rochester. My boss at the Big M was Dick Bonanno. Dick and his wife Sandy had been involved in Marriage Encounter and were active in their parish; they also helped me greatly in discerning my vocation. Dick and I used to pray together before work each day. With the encouragement and prayer support of Dick and the many people I met through the prayer group I began realizing that God was giving me guidance. One friend I met at the Prayer Group, David Heyward, went into the seminary the year before I did. In a way, his entering Becket Hall and later St. Bernard Seminary, helped me to begin entertaining the thought of going to the seminary myself. Also through the Prayer Group, I began a close friendship with Mike and Jane Jennings and their nine children. Their family became a second family to me, and they have supported me through the years. They even hosted my ordination parties to the diaconate and priesthood at their house with the help of the Prayer Group members. Mike has since died but I know he continues to pray for me from heaven. With the encouragement of so many, I entered the seminary where the staff and facility members helped confirm my calling to the priesthood.
As I reflect on my forty years of service to God’s people, I thank God for all the wonderful people who have journeyed with me in the parishes where I have been assigned. It has been a blessed journey and I pray that others may hear the call to the Priesthood. It has been an honor for me to serve God’s People as a priest. I know that in becoming a priest that I am following the design God had in mind for me. I believe I would never have discovered God’s plan for me if I didn’t begin to ask God what direction I should take in my life. I encourage everyone to pray to God for a clear sense of God’s calling for you. Below is a prayer to help in that asking. I encourage you to make it a part of your regular prayer. God’s blessings and peace, Father Bill
Prayer: O Lord, help me know your will for me. Let your light shine in the depths of my heart that I may know what you want me to do with my life. Help me believe that you have a special plan for me. Lord, I know I pass through this life only once; help me decide how you want me to make a difference. Like our Blessed Mother, give me the wisdom to hear your voice and the courage to answer your call. Above all give me peace of mind and heart. I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.