Temps de lecture : 6 minutes

priest for the worldService to the world motivates me to remain a priest. Also the desire to follow Jesus in his freedom and lifestyle. The priests who visited my parents, who were merchants, knew how to make their word come true. It was good for my parents to receive meaning in their busy lives. One priest took the group of high school friends I was with to an abbey and also to the ski resort, we who did not know the mountains.

A happy priest

The Church that welcomed me and called me was not then hit by the revelation, of its crimes of abuse. As a priest, I was happy to be a companion of young people. Happy to offer them beautiful quotes that helped them to launch them into life and faith.
Sometimes I ask myself, would I have entered the seminary today, as the world and the Church seem so closed? I think I would. Two reasons still motivate me: communion with the Lord; the communion of the baptised.

Priest and servant

The Church is only faithful to her Lord under the rule He has taught her: to be ministerial and synodal. This means that she is a sign to the world only in the richness of relationships between people. In this ministry, some of the baptised are a sign of the total gift of Christ which reaches and fills a life. But it is so that all go to this source. This gives no privilege to ordained ministers.

Signs of Christ the shepherd and servant

The Second Vatican Council said of bishops and priests that they are signs of Christ the shepherd (at the risk of exaggeration chosen perhaps by some). It made explicit the restoration of the diaconate as a sign of Christ the servant. Moreover, it is fortunate that Pope Benedict XVI has clarified that the all-encompassing category of the three components of the one Sacrament of Orders (bishop/priest/deacon) is that of “service to the People of God” (Canon 1008). In fact, bishops and priests are ordained deacons (what many see as the call to service) before the ordination that made them a priest or bishop. Ordained ministers are necessary as a reminder of the gift and sending that Christ directs to all.

Priests and laity: walking together

The baptism received confers on all lay people the capacity to support and accompany people in their journey of life and faith. I am thinking in particular of these two situations: the accompaniment of bereaved families and the accreditation by the bishop of lay people and religious, as well as priests, to be spiritual guides in the dioceses at the end of a course of formation which they all follow. So ordained ministers and lay people must walk together. I love the Church when it is a family, a biodiversity, a team. Thus, in parish life, pastoral animation is the responsibility of the parish priest, of the parish priest. But it is shared with a team. It is the same in prison or hospital chaplaincy or in Catholic education.

All priests, prophets and kings

If the bishop and priests ministerially occupy in the Body of Christ the place of Christ-Head who teaches, sanctifies and governs his Body (they remember the power of the Scriptures and the sacraments, as well as the concern for all, especially the poorest) it is so that the baptised laity exercise in their whole life these same prophetic, priestly and kingly missions, linked to their baptism. How fortunate I have been to be able to study and teach in order to embrace and present the meaning of the Church’s ministry and synodality. In 2021 Pope Francis opens the possibility of the ministries of lector and acolyte to all lay people. He establishes the ministry of catechist. The Church is a living Body that needs joints, as St. Paul rightly says!

Priest in the Cor Unum family

I have appreciated since I joined the Cor Unum family (Gem when I was invited in 1990) the possibility of sharing laity and priests in the same team; “The mixing of our states of life in our EVS teams is a grace; we want it to increase in all regions. We contribute to develop synodality in the Church” (Guidelines 2022-2028 for the Heart of Jesus Evangelical Life Society). I am at the heart of one of the two reasons why I wanted to become a priest.

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To be immersed in the baptism of Jesus.

The baptism that Jesus experienced was a source of joy and life for him and for the world. He went further and further in the offering of his life (from baptism to the cross). He kept telling His Father that His will was far better than His. He presented Himself to the Father to be invested with His Spirit for His kingdom to come.
Well, this movement is the secret also of our life and of our joy; we too can present ourselves to the Father every day because we believe in His will, which seeks only our good, and we know that His Kingdom will be realised only through our conversion (which Pope Francis expresses thus at the end of Laudato si‘ “[…] His love always leads us to find new ways. Praise be to him” n° 245).

Living from the baptism of Jesus

I discovered this secret as I went along. Of course it was already in me. Today I formulate it in a more intelligible way and I can invite this movement. We can all live by the baptism of Jesus, that is to say, to hand over to the Father and to Jesus the sufferings of the present and of what is to come. But whatever the failures, displacements and conversions that affect so many around us (and us with them), the gaze, the hand, the Word of Christ and his Body are our compass. He gave himself for us when we were sinners. More than the effort to follow Him, we are immersed in Him, in His baptism. He leads us. And so hope is possible.

Being a priest commits me

We hear the cry of the people to be recognised, to be considered and for a just distribution of wealth (the power to live with also the power to buy for one’s own and for oneself). Also in this world in which I live, I am very conscious that my relationship with the Lord involves the relationship of those around me. It is the Lord who passes through me, so that they find the confidence to live and not to survive. My prayer is not for me, it is for the world. It is a responsibility (that of the Prayer of the Church, which the priest has a particular responsibility to live). I thank Cor Unum for encouraging me on the path of prayer in the school of St. Ignatius.

The life force of people

As a priest and member of the Heart of Jesus Evangelical Life Society within the Cor Unum Family I move slowly. I never cease to be amazed by the life force of the people (the Lord is behind them!), and I am amazed by the trust of the people and the Lord in me. It is good to think that what I do is extremely small; I am not the Good Lord. I like the phrase “You can’t make an appointment with the wind, but you can leave the window open” (Michel Beghin).

I try through the windows that I want to keep open to the synodality and communion remembered and offered (especially by Cor Unum). This allows the Spirit of the Lord, who can make all things new, to take hold of us.

Christophe Decherf, EVS priest; 30 October 2022

Categories: Testimonials