Custar man ordained as father to his flock
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor
Friday, 28 June 2013 08:38
CUSTAR — Family is very important to the newly ordained Rev. Jeffery J. Walker. Walker celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving at his home church, St. Louis Catholic Parish in Custar on Sunday.
|Father Jeff Walker presides over the Sunday Mass at St. Louis Catholic Church in Custar. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
When he first addressed the congregation which included 10 other priests who were concelebrants, he spoke about family and his new title of "Father."
"Being called Father is really going to take some getting used to," he said.
He explained the celebration Sunday was "not really about me guest starring Jesus."
He said the focus should always be on the Lord. Walker said a family is what the entire church should look like.
"We are all brothers and sisters with a common father in heaven. Family takes care of one another no matter their imperfections."
He shared how he appreciated the lessons he learned from his birth family (the J.Walkers), the family of St. Louis Parish, as well as the family of friends and educators in his spiritual formation.
His family is called the J.Walkers as everyone's name begins with the same letter. His parents, Joyce and Jerry were presented with gifts by their son; one sister, Jennifer Tussing was the music coordinator for the liturgy; and his other sister, Julie Lause, assisted with watching over Walker's nieces and nephews.
Walker presented his mother with a cloth used during his ordination on Saturday at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Toledo by Bishop Leonard Blair. The bishop anointed Walker's hands with the holy chrism. The cloth was used to wipe the excess.
In giving it to his mother, he said it was a reminder of her "hands of service" that helped him and will remind him in his priesthood to always be a man of service.
He presented his father with a crucifix from the altar during Sunday's Mass.
"Father is a a title for someone required to sacrifice much for their family and to show their love. The crucifix is the perfect symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus for all of us," he said.
Following Mass, Walker said it was very emotional to thank his parents with those gifts.
"I wasn't looking at them," he said to minimize any chance of his breaking down. "This has been a real adventure for my whole family and I am so proud to be their son."
"This is a little surreal that it's my little brother," his sister Lause said. "I am so pleased and happy for him because he's found his place."
Walker also used the word surreal in his summation of the events.
"It is very surreal, I am floating on Cloud Nine right now," he said.
He joked that the Sunday Mass was more "nerve-racking" than the actual ordination.
"These people saw me in church as I was growing up misbehaving and shouting out," he said.
When addressing the congregation earlier he said, "This is a great community and I am just so pleased to be here. I want to give back to the parish and to thank you for everything you have done."
Father David Tscherne, current pastor of the church, said, "This is really a joyful moment. The parish has seen him grow up. They are proud of him and his ministry. We are very rejoicing."
The homilist for the Mass was Father Philip A. Smith, associate pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament and Corpus Christi University Parish in Toledo.
Walker calls Smith a "big brother" who assisted him during his seminary preparation in Rome.
In Smith's homily he reminded the congregation and Walker of the sacrifices the new priest has and will continue to make in his chosen vocation.
"To some, priesthood from the outside looks like a sad way of life. It precludes you from having any of the normal joys of life," he said providing a list of things a priest will not avail for themselves including having a wife and children or a successful business career.
"Thankfully, it needs to be seen from the inside. At the heart of the matter, the heart of the priesthood can be found in the heart of Jesus," Smith said.
"Wherever (Walker) may be, he is meant to be a visible reminder to those he serves that Jesus loves them and Jesus is with them. This is the priesthood, this is the love of the heart of Jesus. Your (Walker) sacrifices show how Jesus loves us."
Walker will continue his studies for one more year in Rome prior to beginning his service as a priest.
He will celebrate Mass on Sunday at St. Rose Parish, Perrysburg, at noon. He served a year at the parish during his formation.
Last Updated on Friday, 28 June 2013 08:58