Monday, 21 November 2011

The Joy of the Priesthood: Fr Paul Swarbrick

Fr Paul Swarbrick
Ordained: 10 July 1982
Currently: Parish Priest in Workington

Because I am a priest I found myself in sub-Saharan Africa. There I was, one balmy evening, in a classroom bulging with young Zambian schoolgirls aged 13-20 years, all eyes glued to the TV set at the front of the class. Africa Cup. Zambia behind with little time left. They equalise. Injury-time. They score. Full-time. I’m still not sure what happened next, but it must be akin to being hit by lightning… and enjoying it. Here was a joy that cannot be described, nor can in be sustained. An out-standing moment in time, great while it lasted. Where do I find joy? Here and there, now and then.

29 years on, I look back on a priesthood peppered with moments of what might be mistaken for joy, broken by gaps where I thought joy was absent.

But it wasn’t. They joy I know now isn’t dependant on mood or the right circumstance or an imprisoned experience or chance. It is a faithful joy, proving its loyalty over time, and only over time. It reveals its pedigree simply by staying with you, refusing to fade in spite of my changing circumstances and the roller-coaster life I lead. In revealing its character it goes on to reveal its source, the God I serve and preach and love. There I persevere, the better I know the source of that constant joy.

My way to discover this has been through the priesthood. It will be the same for others.