On 6 September 2020 in the Roman parish of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Canadian Martyrs the Golden Jubilee of the priestly ordination of Father Giancarlo Breda sss was celebrated festively by a great concourse of the faithful. It recalled that Father Giancarlo had been a pastor in this parish for many years when he was very appreciated by his parishioners. The Superior General was given the task of preaching the homily on this occasion. Because of the rich and encouraging content of this homily we want to publish it. Thanks to our jubilarian confrere!
Dear sisters, dear brothers,
We are celebrating here the central mystery of our personal and communitarian life: the Eucharist. This mystery encompasses our entire existence and relates us in communion with the whole work of creation. In living this mystery we become confirmed as beloved children of a Father who in his Son Jesus gives himself to us in his Word, bestows himself to us as a body given and blood poured out through the action of his Spirit. This mystery attracts us, mobilises all our energies, and leads us to consecrate life, energy, desires, loves to the Lord. It is an intimate rapport with the great love of our life, God himself.
By these words, I began the homily for the fiftieth anniversary of the religious profession of Fr Giancarlo Breda eight years ago. This helps us to grasp well the constant strength of the Eucharist that becomes always present in our life.
Dear Fr Giancarlo Breda,
In the first years of my priestly ministry, I worked with the Conference of the Religious of Brazil and I had the opportunity to celebrate so many times the jubilees of religious professions and priestly ordinations. God’s praise was frequently heard for having been always faithful, especially at a fiftieth celebration of ordination. I immaturely thought this is nonsense. It is the person who has been faithful during all these years of service to the Church and the people of God.
Today, having lived sixty years and a day, I can understand truly that to attain fifty years of priestly ordination God has always been faithful in your life through his wonderfully daring way of loving. God has always been faithful in calling you to follow him and continues to send you on a mission of serving the Christian community. Because of this, we are celebrating a Eucharist of thanksgiving, being grateful to God for having been always faithful through your fifty years of priesthood.
The word of God proclaimed today illumines us as regards offering a solid foundation for this thanksgiving and underlining the characteristics of the ministry that have shaped your life.
Be a sentinel! This is how the prophet Ezekiel speaks of someone who is dedicated to listening and to the Lord’s service. A sentinel is placed higher than the city, village, to watch, guarantee the security, protect people, that is, to serve them continually, to be available at the service of protecting life, and for us today, in all circumstances in which life is at risk. A sentinel in the silence of his post has as his companion only the Lord. Only through him and with him can we undertake this service of welcoming and protecting people. It is only in the closest intimacy with him that our words can engender life or death. Promoting life always and eliminating all that obstructs it from attaining its fullness desired by God, this is our mission.
Paul recalls that the life of Christians is guided by laws. Mainly, because of the cultural background, we receive from society, sometimes we develop a reaction that is always against the law. If faced with a law, I resist it! In this way we can show the height of spiritual adolescence: all pass through this and overcome it, but some remain blocked there and go no further. Here, however, we are referring to the law of love, the law of charity. Reaching an understanding of the correct meaning proposed by Paul requires maturity, openness, gentleness towards all. For this today you are indebted to God, who shows his faithful love, and reliant also on so many brothers and sisters who have supported you during your path as a priest. Thus you can attain living this grace of the fullness of love.
When we were ordained priests, a part of the consecratory prayer mentions the educative dimension of our ministry. Certainly, many times, in listening to persons, in your ministry as a parish priest, in the service of coordinating brothers in the religious community, you have been able to develop this dimension about which today’s Gospel reminds us very well. Here we can contemplate once again the power of the priest’s word. This word that must be at the service of mercy, a word that opens new roads for that brother, for that sister who is suffering the burden of fragility, sin, a word at the service of demanding building up of brotherhood and communion between our differences, a condition to be listened to by God in our prayers.
The Gospel becomes a very strong challenge for us priests. When we have exhausted all the possible ways of helping persons to be reconciled or integrated into communion, we are told that we can regard them as pagans or publicans. But, what did Jesus do in his relations with pagans and publicans? He broke through all barriers and placed himself at their service. Thus should be our priestly service. It is an inclusive service, providing a renewed openness of opportunity for everyone. Hence, we cannot ever be self-centred, but only focused on the Lord.
You have chosen to live this priestly ministry as a person consecrated to the Eucharist, following the example of Fr Eymard, our holy Founder. Concretely, every time that you celebrate the Eucharist, you are involved in the dynamics of the Lord Jesus’ gift of self, which molded St Peter-Julian Eymard, above all in the last years of his life. In humility, we can say that you have chosen the most beautiful way in the Church to respond to the Lord and to your ministerial calling. A ministerial vocation in the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
So, all the demands of this priestly vocation, lived in the daily offering of life, become love, become joy and nourish perseverance, fidelity.
We ask the Lord to continue to be always more faithful in manifesting his love in the whole of your life. Thus each year we shall be able to celebrate your service to the Church, to the Congregation, until the final call of the Lord to participate in the full banquet of eternal joy.
Rome, 6 September 2020
Fr. Eugênio Barbosa Martins, sss
We cannot end this article without expressing our gratitude to Fr Eugênio Barbosa Martins sss, the Superior General, for his message and for having agreed for it to be published in our bulletin.
Father Agostinho Maholele, sss