Celebrating a jubilee is a cause of joy and happiness. It reminds us of something that happened and became history. It makes us look back and get a sense of the life we have consecrated. It is true that to celebrate is to remember, but that is not sufficient. To commemorate something means to make it present again and to live it as an act of gratitude. Looking at Father Dehon, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his priestly ordination and his first Mass. On December 19, 1868, our founder was ordained as a priest at Saint John Lateran, Rome, with another 200 ordinands. The first mass took place the following day.
We can read again the words of our founder: “The impressions of the ordination cannot be expressed. I became a priest, owned by Jesus, and all is filled with him, his love for the Father, his zeal for souls, his spirit of prayer and sacrifice”(NHV 6/85).
On December 20th, Father Dehon celebrated his first Mass at Saint Claire Seminary: “It was emotional. When my father and mother approached for communion, no one could hold back the tears. Personally, I was crazy with love for our Lord and full of contempt for my poor, little self. It was the best day of my life “(NHV 6/86).
These words express many feelings: love, emotion, lively gratitude to God for so many gifts that he has received. Days of grace and happiness. In the preparation for ordination he carried out a course of spiritual exercises. He states: “Our Lord wanted to prepare me himself, giving me abundant graces. He certainly had in mind my current mission. I see it today, clearly. He gave me so generously that spirit of love and reparation which is the characteristic of my vocation” (NHV 6/82).
Priestly ordination and first Mass are two great days of celebration, as he wrote: “the best of my life” (NHV 6/82), always characterized by a profound experience of God, his gifts and the marvels of his love.
For us, as Dehonians, this commemoration is a day of celebration and joy; we give thanks to God because of Father Dehon and of the offering of his Dehonian vocation. We remember and celebrate this jubilee of our founder.
Let us ask God, the Father of mercy, to grant him the gift of Beatification, as a model of virtue and zeal; who sacrificed so much to remain faithful to His call, to spread the devotion to the Divine Heart of Jesus.