Fr. Sylvester “Sy” Peterka, CM, is a Vincentian Priest of the Eastern Province who serves as Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. When asked to share some thoughts with men considering a vocation, he writes about keeping Jesus in the center of everything in life. “We are not social workers or do-gooders. We are proclaimers of the Good News of Jesus Christ!”
“Jesus, the Center of My Joy”
There is a song whose opening line is, “Jesus, you’re the center of my joy. All that is good and perfect comes from you.”
As a Vincentian priest I am called to live this faith every day of my life. Jesus must be the center, the front, and the back of my life. Jesus’ mission to preach the Good News to the poor is the Mission of every Vincentian priest, brother, and seminarian.
I try to do this – centering on Jesus – by prayer, both communal and personal. About 25 years ago, as I took over a second parish, I started answering the phone with “Praise God” and with both parish names. I still answer the phone “Praise God, St. Vincent’s.” Soon I realized how this little prayer greatly helped me to focus on Jesus. Now when people ask how I am doing, I respond “I’m Blessed” or “I’m Blessed and Highly Favored.” Seriously, is there anyone who isn’t? It again helps me, if not both of us, to center on Jesus.
Whenever I start a meeting, I begin with a moment of prayer, even if it is not a “religious meeting.” Whenever I help someone. I pray first. Don’t we all need His guidance in all that we do? We must remember always that ministry is not about us. It’s about bringing ourselves and whoever we are with in contact with Jesus.
Recently a woman mentioned that she was going to write something down every day that she has to be thankful to God for. So now next to my bed is a pen and a large jar marked, “Thank You Lord.” We constantly need to focus on the Center of our Joy, Jesus, and thank Him. We are not social workers or do-gooders. We are proclaimers of the Good News of Jesus Christ! Many times we need to remind ourselves of this relationship with God in little but powerful ways.