As a Christian community, how we relate to each other as individuals, how we support each other and nourish each other so that we are not just strong but fully alive is fundamental. We need to embody the presence and love of God, to ensure that Jesus is our guide, our centre, our summit. These things make a community stand out as true followers of Jesus.
We all have a role to play in that and are called by our baptism to be the messengers, the disciples, of that love of God, that care of God for our society, for our world. The role of the priest within the Christian community is to nurture and develop that discipleship in others, to preach the Word of God so that each and every disciple can continue to grow and deepen their relationship with Jesus.
This Sunday evening we will welcome the body of Father Vincent back to the Abbey Church. The church where he prayed daily as a monk, where he was nourished by the Bread of life and where he discovered his role in our Christian Community and carried out his priestly ministry for many decades.
Over the last few months especially, many people have been asking how he has been, and we’ve been praying for him at Mass. Although he has been out of active ministry for 19 years, the mark his ministry as a priest has left in the parish has been very strong and significant.
When people speak about him, they come alive, they smile, they laugh. They remember his ability to bring something new, different. They remember someone open to new ideas and willing to try new things. He was able to gather round him talented and creative individuals and enabled them to grow and develop not just their own faith but the faith of others within the parish community. They remember very personal encounters where their anxieties were calmed, and a personal touch that made a lasting impression on them.
As we remember for Fr Vincent, let us also pray that those same traits may live on in our parish and continue to draw new life and new hope from Jesus, the true bread of life who has come down from heaven.
May he rest in peace!