By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
This year of 2019 has been a blessed one full of opportunities to beef up our personal faith during the exercise of exorcising the many problems coming upon our church.
First, there was the list of credible violations committed by clerics.
Next, the pope was summoning a meeting of many bishops from around the world to look into solutions to the sexual abuse of minors.
Now, there were reports on all the television news shows about the children who had been abandoned by the priests who were their biological fathers.
All this brought back into my mind a question that was posed to me on one of the flights I took from Tyler to New York in 1954 as I was on my way to Rome for four years of studies. I sat next to a person who became very inquisitive on learning that I was a seminarian. He asked many questions about my theological understanding of God. (Of course, I did confess to him that I was only a pre-theologian and that I was going to get many years of doctrine injected into me at the Gregorian University.)
Then he became very insistent that I was very young and did I know that I was headed for a life of celibacy and loneliness. My only response was that I had reckoned that God was only calling me to do some praying for the grace to live such a life and to do much study to understand how it fits into the economy of salvation…and then I would be able to give an authentic response to his question.
At that time in 1954, my timeline was geared to get all the correct and compelling answers around 1960, give or take a few decades. Since the sacraments are designed to help us in various periods of our life, Holy Orders was to be my answer to understanding this celibacy thing.
During these first 61 years since my ordination, I am beginning to figure it out, somewhat. To live any life of worthiness, it is important first to have a good idea of one’s self and be honest in being and in sharing that person. Then it is tremendously more important that many other people play a role in your formation of becoming that unique person God has destined you to be. And each day you have to get up and try again to be ok with yourself and others.
Early in my first parish assignment I had the joy of meeting many great, honorable people who taught me what they wanted in a priest. It was an equal blessing to discover a book on the priesthood written by a most interesting novelist, Graham Greene. It was about a “whiskey” priest and it is set in Mexico during the persecution days of the 1930s.
I still go back from time to time to read that novel, “The Power and The Glory,” in order to refresh my dedication to celibacy.
The answer is still the same: faith, hope and charity.
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.