May 1, 2024 at 1:31 p.m.

‘PART OF A FAMILY’

Deacon Paul McDonald talks about his pastoral year with the Catholic Community of the Holy Family
Deacon Paul McDonald (kneeling,) is shown at a celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Clement’s School in Saratoga Springs. (Photo courtesy of Deacon McDonald)
Deacon Paul McDonald (kneeling,) is shown at a celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Clement’s School in Saratoga Springs. (Photo courtesy of Deacon McDonald)

By Deacon Paul McDonald | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The Catholic Community of the Holy Family comprises the churches of Notre Dame-Visitation in Schuylerville, St. Joseph’s in Greenwich and St. Clement’s in Saratoga Springs. Since beginning my assignment here in September of last year, I have found the moniker captures aptly the spirit of these three historic parishes.

SAVE THE DATE

The combined Priesthood and Diaconate Ordination will take place on Saturday, May 18, at 11 a.m., at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. Deacons Thomas Fallati, Adam Feisthamel, Paul McDonald, Anthony Onu and Joseph Tuan Pham will be ordained to the priesthood, and Eric Ramirez will be ordained to the permanent diaconate. You can watch the ordination live at www.rcda.org/livestream. Watch for more Vocation Voices stories in coming editions of The Evangelist as we near ordination. Next week we will hear from Deacons Feisthamel and Onu. 

Previously, as a seminarian, I was assigned to St. Jude the Apostle and St. Michael the Archangel churches in Wynantskill, numerous churches in the Adirondack Vicariate, and numerous churches in the Catskill region. All these assignments provided valuable opportunities to learn and grow in the formation for the priesthood, and this past year has been a clear indicator that our Lord uses stages to train those who are being prepared to serve in his vineyard.

This stage of my preparation has involved an immersion into the life of these parishes that has allowed me to truly become a part of a family. My opportunities here have included serving the Mass as a seminarian, assistance of the priest as a deacon, attendance at meetings ranging from the St. Clement’s Elementary School board to the Pastoral Council and Parish Staff, and participation in community-wide group and family activities. Throughout my involvement in all of these, I have witnessed some of the many elements that often make up a growing family: the growing pains that can precede and accompany a healthy quickening, the perseverance that is a requirement for successful navigation through challenges, and most significantly, the love and support that is the lifeblood of all good growth. In this community, as the members learn and grow together, the way in which they lean heavily on faith and each other calls to mind the characteristics of the Holy Family that supported and nourished Our Savior himself!

My participation in the lives of these parishes and their parishioners has provided me with an up-close-and-personal view of several facets of the priesthood to which I can look forward. First and foremost is the celebration of the Mass. The idea of raising and distributing to the faithful the “source and summit” of Christian life fills me with both a great joy and a humble gratitude that I find difficult to express adequately in words. The preaching of the homily is another gift of the vocation. The mining of the Scriptures and the display of their treasures for the edification and spiritual nourishment of the people of God provides a deep sense of fulfillment that promises to grow sweeter with time. I also look forward to the ability to serve as a minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and in so doing to be a channel for the forgiveness that God provides to all who approach him with humility and contrition.

It must be expressed that none of the gifts which I received here in this community would have been possible without the support, encouragement, prayers and love of the parishioners, staff and clergy with whom I have been blessed enough to journey since entering formation in the Albany Diocese in 2019. Like the “branch from a wild olive tree,” the communities in which I have served have grafted me in, so that now I am truly “... sharing in the nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree...!” (Romans 11:17-18) It is my prayer that our Lord will see fit to make me an instrument of optimal efficacy in providing to the faithful this same nourishment, hope and fulfillment!


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