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UPON MY 15th ANNIVERSARY OF ORDINATION

It was the morning of December 13, 2003, when the Lord Jesus Christ bestowed upon me, His unworthy servant, the wonderful gift of the priesthood. That day Bishop Carlos Prada Sanmiguel laid his hands on me, and with the prayer of consecration I became part of the priesthood of Christ to serve in His Church.

It is precisely the spirit of service that led me to fall in love with our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the root of my priestly vocation.  As a kid in my hometown, as in most of Colombia in the 80s and 90s, an atmosphere of violence and cruelty permeated. I remember that my town was abandoned by the government for many years, and during that time the guerrillas committed many injustices to people. Murders, kidnappings, extortion were everyday events. I had to suffer and witness the death of some friends at the hands of the violent. As a result of this tragedy, many chose revenge and hate. Yet I chose to follow Jesus because He is the only one who offers true peace and justice. I felt the need to serve the Lord by sharing that truth, so I responded to Him and entered the Major Seminary to start my formation as a priest.

The desire of following Jesus came, however, not only because of the context of injustice and violence that existed at the time, but also because of Jesus’ promise of hope, love, and joy, especially during Christmas season. Parish and family Christmas celebrations, Christmas carols, novenas and Masses opened up to me the longing to celebrate the miracle of Christmas from the altar. Thus, this is my fifteenth Christmas as priest and I thank God for such a great miracle.

I have seen the abundant blessings of God every day during these fifteen years of priesthood, so I praise the Lord with a deep sense of gratitude. I praise the Lord for my first years of priesthood in Colombia, for my time of formation, for the opportunity to come to the Archdiocese of Hartford…       

Today I praise the Lord especially for bringing me here to the beautiful parish of St. Joseph in Bristol. I'm sure there is no better place to celebrate my fifteenth anniversary of ordination. You are all a great miracle in my life and a great light to my priesthood.

From the depth of my heart, I wish to convey my sincere gratitude to all of you for your expressions of love and friendship, and for being patient with my Colombian accent. I thank my brothers and sisters of the Hispanic community for sharing with me the richness of their faith and Latin American culture. I also thank all St. Joseph’s staff and volunteers for their invaluable help to me. I thank Deacon Neil for his example of service and dedication.

Finally, I lay in the hands of the Lord my shortcomings and my limitations. I know I carry all these treasures in an earthen vessel. I do not take glory for the good things I have in me because these belong only to the Lord. Rather I ask God and all of you for forgiveness for my mistakes, failures and sins.

Please pray that God will give me strength to live a life of example wherever I go. Blessed and praised be the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God bless you all!

Fr Iván

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