Last time in Newburgh

Yesterday was the last time I visited Newburgh, the parish where together with three other seminarians I have been going on a weekly basis since October.

We have been so very blessed to have been assigned to this parish. We’ve learned so much from the entire staff, but most especially the pastor, Fr. Joe Ziliak, who has been a faithful priest of the Church for 44 years. (Yesterday was his anniversary.)

He is the the perfect example of what it means to “be for”, as Cardinal Ratzinger put it in his book, Introduction to Christianity. He is a man, a Christian, a priest–all for the sake of others and for Christ.

He inspires his people to grow in faith in such gentle ways.

So much to learn from him! Every one of the staff members we spoke with (which was all of them) mentioned stories of Fr. Ziliak, who has been there for over twenty years as pastor. Everyone credits his faithful ministry as the cause of the parish’s overwhelming growth and success–everyone, that is, except him, who doesn’t accept the credit at all.

This parish is alive.

The Church needs more priests like him: humble, generous, zealous, friendly, knowledgeable, and most of all: THERE! He is present to the people when they need him.

I will miss this parish!

I am going to be writing a paper and preparing a presentation on all our experiences at this parish…perhaps I will post some of it here.

How blessed I have been to be welcomed into “this little part of God’s kingdom,” to quote Fr. Ziliak.