Our dear bishop Larry was the Celebrant and concelebrating with him were priests from our diocese. A few of us were invited to this joyous occasion by our friend Father Paul Smith, retired Army Chaplain. Father Paul and Father Roland Bunda SM are celebrating their golden jubilee. There were many sisters and deacons celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, along with a couple of priests and a few brothers. A couple of sisters are celebrating 75 years in religious life! You can read a little more about each of them here.
The following is what Father Paul shared. What a beautiful testament to the priesthood! (Normally, we would provide the link to the Hawaii Catholic Herald but unfortunately, their site is down for maintenance. The emphasis added is mine).
"I was ordained in Newark, N.J., on May 26, 1962. After serving in parishes in Jersey City, I entered the U.S. Army as a chaplain on active duty in 1971 and served int he Central Highlands of Vietnam until March 28, 1973. I was the last living chaplain to leave Vietnam. In addition to several Mainland assignments, I served in South Korea, Germany, Panama, Alaska and Hawaii. Upon retirement from the Army in 1992, I worked in hospital ministry in Honolulu for 19 years, retiring in 2011.Happy Golden Jubilee Father Paul and Father Roland from the Spiritual Moms who pray for you and your brother priests, each and every day!
"Challenges and difficulties are present in every life, but the challenges of the priesthood are unique and magnified because of the special obligations of assisting people on their journey from here to eternal life.
"One of many consolations as a priest is the privilege of offering Mass, an honor not granted to God's holy angels. Offering Mass and providing the sacraments to soldiers hours before they unfortunately are killed in battle was not just a duty, but an honor. Their devotion at Mass and the Eucharist reminds me that I have young men, soldier saints, who are hopefully watching over me. God knows I need watching over!
"Administering the last sacraments to my father before he died and celebrating his funeral Mass were memorable experiences. Likewise, caring for my mother in her old age was an unforgettable honor and privilege for me as a priest. She usually treated me as her 'little boy,' but when she was unable to leave home for confession due to illness, I became 'Father'. After confession it was back to the normal routine of 'little boy'. Saying Mass for her, giving her the Anointing of the Sick, and celebrating her funeral Mass were moments of wonder fan consolation that belong only to the priest as he brings God to his mother, and his mother to God.
'"It has been a wonderful life! As Lacordaire said: 'It is all yours, O priest of Jesus Christ.""