Sacerdos In Aeternum

Sacerdos In Aeternum

  • Today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
  • Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
  • 6 October 2019

Last Sunday we prayed for Father Thomas Fox, who died in Lafayette on September 27th. Father Fox was a very good friend, and a brother priest, and a personal mentor of mine since my early teens. He was ordained for our diocese in 1960 and served as the associate pastor of St. Bridget parish in Logansport until he was assigned to the faculty of Central Catholic High School in 1964. That is where he touched the lives of numerous young people who have continued to keep in touch with him through the years. I first met Fr. Fox as a freshman at CC and it was through him that I learned to love American history and the vocation of the priesthood. In a moment of weakness it was Fr. Fox who recommended me to represent Central Catholic at “Hoosier Boys State” and that was my first real exposure to the political workings of our State government and the responsibilities of citizenship. The Fr. Fox brand of living the life of a disciple of Jesus in the everyday world was a strong influence on molding my vocation as a priest. He was a fine man, a good Catholic, a faithful priest, an inspiring teacher and a common sense Christian. During the mid 1980’s, when I was assigned as an associate pastor for St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at Purdue, Fr. Fox was the pastor of St. Ann Parish just across the river in Lafayette. We reconnected again as brother priests and have been great friends ever since. The world has lost a great advocate for the priesthood and a steady witness for the Church in the person of Father Thomas Fox. He was a man who knew who he was, where he came from, and where he was going. Nor was he shy about making his perspectives known to anyone who cared to ask. Above all else he was a Churchman – a priest for and of the Church that he loved more than the rich farmland of his birth.  Now he is returned to that land as a fruitful expression of God’s abundance. In thinking about these things, I recalled some of the reflections on the priesthood by Father Denis Robinson, O.S.B. They capture some of the charism that Father Fox has shared with the people of God and his brother priests in this part of the world.

 

“As priests, all of us live with ideals; it is part of being a human person. It is an essential part of being a priest. We have a vision in our minds of what we think the life of the priest should be like, what we want to achieve, what we desire our ministry and our lives as priests to be. Sometimes these ideals are quite realistic, at other times they are not. Life, however, would be almost meaningless if we had no vision, no goals, and no ideals for living.

 

Priestly life, whether it is lived in the context of a parish or some other work of the Gospel, is no different. As priests, we look to the Gospel to set the tone and pace for our daily living. Christ establishes the parameters of our lives by showing us his Way. The Way of Christ is very concrete. That is to say, it is not merely a set of good ideas or values. The sacramental nature of our lives is realized in that place where the spiritual and the corporeal meet. The identity of the priest is one that necessarily touches on every aspect of our living, including the material. Likewise, Christian priesthood is manifested not only in the overtly “religious” components of our lives, but even in the mundane and the everyday.”

(Sacerdos In Aeternum, ©2010, St. Meinrad Archabbey)

 

This was the incarnational priesthood that Father Fox lived throughout his life and we are all enriched because of this miracle of the sacrament that God began in him since before the world was young. The sacred character of his priesthood remains as part of our heritage in the life of the Church … he is a priest forever … from then, until now, and into the Kingdom for which we hope.