Year 6 – A Chat with Father Jerry

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In RE lessons this week, Year 6 children have been learning about vocation and commitment. The children composed questions to ask a priest about ‘being called’, their day to day life as a parish priest and their commitment to God. Yesterday, Fr. Jerry came in and was interviewed by the Year 6 children. His answers to the children’s questions were very interesting and insightful.
1. Did you know that you would get the calling from God to become a priest?
To be frank I grew up like you. I did not know that God was calling me but something happened. I was going to a school ran by priests. That headmaster had given me one job; I had to take the newspaper to the headmaster’s office everyday. One day I was looking at the cartoons and I saw an advert calling for priests and that is how I heard about serving Jesus, working with the people and becoming a missionary.
2. What does God mean to you?
If I did not know what God was to me, I would not be here. God is my love; my everything. I have left everything behind because he IS my everything.
3. How did it feel to be called by God?
Wonderful! At first I was a bit nervous and I was frightened too. I didn’t know what my future would be. I didn’t know what he would expect of┬áme but I knew that I had to trust myself and God to lead me. I surrendered myself to him.
4. How do you feel when you celebrate Mass?
Mass is the greatest prayer! The Eucharist is the greatest prayer; it is the source and summit of our life. It is the beginning and the end. When I celebrate Mass I feel like I am not worthy but I’m holding my creator in my hands so I feel so grateful.
5. If you enter the priesthood and realise it is not for you, can you leave?
In my opinion, if you’re not happy with something you should leave. I was given the opportunity to see if I liked it. Even after that if I felt like I wasn’t worthy it is my choice but this happens in very few cases because it is not 1 day or 1 year training. I took 10 years to know what I wanted to be.
6. How do you celebrate the sacrament of Holy Orders?
After my preparation we went for a month retreat – that’s prayer in silence. There were ten of us. All ten of us kneeled in front of the Bishop and he questioned us – are you still wanting to be a priest? I took the chalice and the bread. After our ordination we celebrated our first Mass.
7. Where did you celebrate your first Mass?
I celebrated my first Mass in my hometown – Goa in India.
8. How did you feel celebrating your first Mass?
I was so nervous because it was my first time preaching in front of my own people but I felt great! Everyone came to celebrate and I got a lot of gifts.
9. What are the challenges you face as a priest?
As soon as I was ordained I was in charge of calling young boys and girls to become priests. For five years, I did this work. I went from school to school trying to ‘sell my product’. Then I moved somewhere else in India as a missionary and I had to learn their language. Learning their language and culture was very tough. I was even attacked but I never gave up. I committed myself to Jesus – do or die. Then I moved to a very cold place with another different language. I had to learn another new language and culture. These were very tough times.
10. What is your favourite part of your job?
It is giving Jesus to others. In everything I do there is Jesus. I can write many love songs but if Jesus isn’t in it; I won’t write it. Jesus is my medicine.