Newly-ordained American priest receives blessing in homeless man

5 July 2019
American Franciscan priest Fr Casey Cole OFM. Image: Breaking in the Habit.

 

On Saturday 22 June, American Franciscan priest Casey Cole OFM was ordained a priest in North Carolina.

On the feast of Corpus Christi, 23 June, Fr Casey presided over his first Mass.

However, an encounter with a homeless man on his way to his celebration lunch became the “greatest blessing of my day.”

According to his website, Breaking in the Habit, Fr Casey graduated from Furman University in 2011 with a degree in Religious Studies and a minor in poverty studies. He entered the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) in August of 2011, made solemn profession in August of 2017, and was ordained to the transitional diaconate in March of 2018.

Fr Casey attended the Catholic University of America for graduate studies for three years and graduated from his Master of Divinity Degree at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago last month. He has published a book entitled Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God, is the creator of two YouTube channels, and regularly gives talks throughout the country on evangelization and vocations.

In a blog post, Fr Casey explained the importance of the occasion of his first Mass and acknowledged that the Body of Christ isn’t just in the Eucharist, but in the people.

“It is on this feast of Corpus Christi, the celebration of the body and blood of Christ, that I am reminded that Jesus’ words “this is my body” have a second and no less important meaning: we are the body of Christ. As Christians, those who are baptized into Christ, we are more than just members of an organization, more than just casual associates… we are bound together in the blood of Christ, made one through the Holy Spirit. As much as we know that Christ is truly present here at this altar, we can be equally sure that Christ is truly present in you and in me.

“In our Gospel today, Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to simply perform a miracle, making his presence felt and adored in some mystical way. He said, “Give them some food.” In other words, “my body out there is hungry. Feed my people.” Christ says this is my body here at the altar, and he says this is my body out in the world. The connection between the two is so intimate, so inseparable, that the great Saint John Chrysostom once proclaimed to his congregation that if they failed to see Christ in the beggar at the door, failed to care for the lost and the broken, the hungry and thirsty, then they would truly fail to see him in the chalice. Just as the species on this altar are a free gift from God, a gift of Christ’s very self, so too are we to one another; so too are the poor; so too are the lost and forgotten. It’s why he says in Matthews Gospel that when you serve the poorest of the people, you actually serve him. He is with the poor, he dwells in them,” Fr Casey wrote.

Little did Fr Casey know that what he preached would be put into practice.

Following his first Mass, whilst on his way to a celebration with his family, a homeless man called Rob asked a fellow friar for a lift. The friar then invited the homeless man to lunch before agreeing to take him.

During the lunch, Rob was embraced by Fr Casey and his family, despite the concerns Fr Casey had.

Fr Casey detailed the encounter on Twitter to his thousands of followers.

His tweets were retweeted dozens of times on Twitter, and Fr Casey also received kind words from followers.

 

In his blog post, Fr Casey said that there was something that he wanted out of the celebration of his first Mass.

“…There is one thing that I hope for, one thing that is worth more to me than your wealth, something that would make my life as a priest worth ever challenge and failure. That thing is this: in all that I do in my life and ministry, you may see nothing but the love and humility of Christ, that you may be overwhelmed with the love that Christ gives you and amazed at what Christ is capable of through a useless sinner like me. And that when this happens, you may not give me any credit or feel that you owe me anything, but may want nothing more than to give everything you have, not just ten percent, but everything, your whole lives, to the one who gives you everything.”

To read more about Fr Casey’s journey, visit his website – https://breakinginthehabit.org/ or find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

 

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