With great joy, I would like to announce that our family - both mine and the whole Catholic faith as well - has received a blessing with the ordination yesterday of Paul Griesgraber.
Father Paul (gosh, Paul, now we have to get used to hearing that) is my husband's uncle, the younger brother of my late and beloved mother-in-law. Paul was born to Andrew and Angeline Griesgraber in Escondido, CA, number 8 in a total of 1o siblings.
Paul was, as the DigiSpouse puts it, "a priest all his life, save for the formal ordination."
Paul always struck me as a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi, and I remember Grandma Angie, his mother, complaining how she dare not give him something nice because it wouldn't stay in his care very long - an expensive, camel's hair coat, I believe, that she gave him once wound up within days on the back of a homeless man Paul encountered on the street.
Yesterday, another relative, "Kaiser" Bill, was talking about how he fell away from the Church after his experiences in Vietnam. About 10 years ago, he kept hearing a voice saying, "Come back." He didn't want to tell anyone and this went on for a few months, until one evening Paul came over to dinner. Bill said that Paul suddenly and casually asked him whether there was "something on his mind." When Bill said no, Paul asked him if he was sure and again asked what was on his mind. Bill finally confessed about the voice and asked Paul what he should do. Paul's simple reply, "Listen to it." Bill's been at church ever since.
In the reception following Paul's ordination at Our Lady, Queen of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, Paul told a story about how he "never had a vocation" for the priesthood, and only with the help of two close friends - who preceeded him to the priesthood, Fr. Vito and Fr. Mark - did he finally realize what he was meant to do in life, although it took him a while to get there. The three friends stood with huge smiles on their faces - now they were more than friends, they were brother-priests.
His reception was held at the churh where he was a deacon and will now be one of its priests, St. Andrew's in Pasadena. The outpouring was amazing - I spoke with a few members of the parish who told me how much they loved Paul and how thrilled they were to find out he was assigned to their parish. They showed it, with a rather fancy luncheon and the parish hall filled to capacity!
Paul adamantly told his family - despite the fact that with 8 surviving siblings and their extended families that they could easily afford it - they were not to buy him a chalice, that he wanted to find a "used" chalice as his own. Just three days ago, one of his friends was in Orange County and was talking to a Knight of Columbus, who had given her a button reading, "In Solidarity With Our Priests." Just in passing. he told her how the Knights of his council had a chalice that they wanted to present to a new priest but - and who would imagine? - could not find one! She realized the moment God had given her and excitedly told him about her friend who would be ordained the coming weekend! When contacted about it, Paul recounted that his first inclination was to say no, as he never liked receiving gifts, but heard God tell him "enough is enough" and he graciously received the gift of a new chalice and paten. Paul mentioned he felt it was special as it came from the Knights, of which his late father was a long-time and active member.
Today Father Paul is celebrating his first Mass at his home parish of St. Victor's in West Hollywood. While we can't be there (I have my own duties at my parish today for Children's Liturgy), please remember him in your prayers.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of Father Paul Griesgraber!
(For some reason, Blogger is not allowing photos to be published, despite me making then smaller in size - hopefully, they will iron out this bug and I'll post pictures later . . .)