PALM BEACH GARDENS | Parishioners gathered Jan. 25, at St. Patrick Parish in Palm Beach Gardens for Mass led by Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito to celebrate four priestly anniversaries.
Aidan Lacy, pastor of St. Parish Parish for the past three years, celebrated 25 years in December 2018. Father Brian Flanagan, retired pastor of St. Paul of the Cross, celebrated 20 years in 2018, and Father John D’Mello, parochial vicar of St. Patrick Parish, celebrated 45 years. Most remarkably was Msgr. Walter Birkle, a priest in residence at St. Patrick, who celebrated 60 years of priesthood. These men were joined for Mass by Deacon Joe Pollock of St. Patrick, Father Seamus Murtagh, pastor emeritus of St. Ann Parish in West Palm Beach, Msgr. James Burke, retired, and Father Brian King, episcopal secretary.
Bishop Barbarito opened the Mass congratulating each of these men on their amazing achievements and thanking them “for their ministry over the years and continued dedication.” He added the men are wonderful examples to him and the Catholic faithful.
“In life we are all called to do different things. With God calling these four men in a very special way to be priests and to be with us all, they are completing what they have been called to do,” he said. “They are no different, or more important than anyone who is doing what they are called to by our Lord, whether it be accounting, clerical, or anything else as long as you are doing what the Lord has called you to do you are fulfilling his work.”
While speaking to the priests, Bishop Barbarito said “as a priest, the most important thing is to be in a relationship with our Lord, and that this must be kept as a primary relationship and everything else will fall into place.” He then thanked the priests, saying, “these men have given their lives to prayer and we thank them for that. They have given themselves to the church and to the people they serve.”
In closing the Mass, Bishop Barbarito compellingly asked for all young males to think about priesthood and its calling. He wanted every young man to know just how rewarding the priesthood could be, if it is their true calling.
Father Lacy took a few minutes during Mass to speak about peace, justice, and compassion while also thanking the other priests and Bishop Barbarito for “making my last three years nothing but the best.” Father Lacy also joked while his body might be getting older, his voice wasn’t going anywhere.