Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, A very big thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years with your prayers, friendship, cards, good food, and many other gifts! I would not be enjoying my life as a priest if it were not for you. It certainly takes a community to raise a priest, and I have been blessed with many communities that have helped me see this journey through to completion! Now that I am a priest, I can truly say that I understand why so many priests have told me in the past that they love their job. The short five months that I have spent as a priest so far have been the best five months of my life! First of all, celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is truly out of this world! Rather than an activity limited to time and space, the Mass is our temporal participation in that one Heavenly celebration wherein Jesus eternally offers Himself to the Father. Therefore, when I say the words of consecration as a validly ordained priest, Jesus Christ becomes present in my hands, under the appearances of bread and wine. Then, at the moment of Holy Communion, myself and all of the faithful who are in attendance at the Mass are able to share in the very same grace that Jesus earned for us on the Cross over two-thousand years ago. Words cannot describe the joy and honor of literally giving people what, or rather, whom they need most: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Another great joy for me that comes in as a close second after celebrating Mass is the Sacrament of Penance. In the Confessional, I am able to offer people a truly safe place where they can discuss their greatest struggles and receive the forgiveness that their hearts are yearning for. It is frequently the case that people will share things with me that they are not comfortable sharing with anyone else in any other context because they know that it is only a Catholic priest in the context of Confession who can promise them true forgiveness and absolute secrecy. Through this Sacrament, I have already seen hundreds of people find freedom from their heavy burdens of shame and regret, some of which they had been carrying for a long time. As a spiritual father, nothing leaves me feeling better than to witness a person who enters the confessional trembling with fear and shame, but then leaves crying tears of joy and feeling as light as a feather! Of course, this joy that I have been experiencing would not be true Christian joy except if it was intermingled with great tests of self-sacrifice, and this is the last thing that I would like to mention here. A big part of why I have been able to discover this new joy is because I have been getting a little better at accepting God’s invitation to a life of self-sacrifice. All men are called to be fathers, either biological or spiritual, and this call demands that they lay down their life for their spouse and children. My daily work as a spiritual father demands that I often surrender my own needs and desires in order to attend to those of the Church and of the faithful who are entrusted to me. Whether it is as simple as taking an unexpected hospital call or hearing a last-minute confession, or as complex as canceling my weekend plans in order to cover for a priest who has fallen ill, I have found that joy is not found in comfort, but rather in the process of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable! God is always calling us to greater heights of holiness, and He will not stop until we reach the end of our journey here on Earth, so neither should we! May God bless you all! Father Szabo