The priest is not a priest for himself- he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. -St. John Vianney
Grace Kelly Leon is a beautiful young lady who is a senior in college this fall. I have quietly been stalking her and praying for her now for several years. She was a grade school friend and classmate of my oldest son, Nick, and that is how I came to know her. I haven’t seen her in person in some time, but when I do, I know she’ll give me one of her big bear hugs! When she was in the 7th grade, she was diagnosed with a blood cancer which is more often called lymphoma. Grace Kelly was a very sick girl at the time, and there were a large number of us doing a lot of praying for her healing.
It turned out that a seminarian I had never met, named Dominic Petan, had just been through treatment for the exact same condition. The details of how I came into contact with him escape me now. Perhaps I had written a blog post about Grace Kelly asking for prayers and he happened upon it? I just don’t recall, however what I do remember very clearly is that he asked me to put him into contact with her. His kindness in reaching out to her and his promise of prayers for GK were very meaningful and comforting to her at a difficult time, and I began to include him by name on my regular prayer list for priests. He hadn’t been ordained yet, but I could see that was merely an accident of timing. Hans Urs Von Balthasar famously said “A good priest is always a miracle of grace” and any fool could see this young man was compassionate, prayerful and full up to his eyeballs with grace.
It’s many years later now, and Dominic Petan is now Fr. Dominic Petan. Since the holiest priest I know is always lending out books that are apparently rarely returned, I decided maybe a new young priest could use a start on his own library and I sent him a box with a few of my favorites when he was ordained. He’s now the pastor of the Cathedral parish of our diocese, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lafayette. Since he posts his homilies online, I often read them. I had gone to mass this evening at my own parish in Carmel and though I clearly recalled the gospel, I admit I was distracted during the homily, so I went to get an alternate “gospel message” to start my week from Fr. Dominic’s site: dominicpetan.blogspot.com. It was a beautiful message about differentiation– being who we are before God and others.
If you’ve been following my little 2019 mission, you’ll know I’m on day 257 of 365 in my attempt to point out great folks around me who make a positive difference for others. Although I still haven’t met this holy, young priest, I find his words to be full of intelligence and grace. His message is consistently both accessible and full of the love of Christ. I recommend his blog if you are inclined to check out such things! I’m WAY past overdue to tell Fr. Dominic Petan that he’s a light in the darkness, a bearer of the cross, and a solid human being for whom I am grateful! Thanks for all you do for others each day, Padre!! My rosary tonight will be for you.