When I first moved to Fairfield, people asked if I had found a parish. Everyone who asked, recommended St. Anthony of Padua. The pastor, they said, was the best homilist in the diocese. They were right. Like you, I have heard my fair share of good homilies and, like you, there have been many Sundays where I sat and wondered, “Where in the world is he going (and how long will it take to get there)?” Every Sunday, Fr. John accomplishes in a few short minutes what some clergy take a lifetime to do – they share something worth remembering.
I asked once how he learned to connect the readings to the lives of the faithful so well and he laughed and told the story of his homiletics professor in seminary who encouraged the class, “Never preach longer than you are interesting.” Then, after a long pause, she added, “And remember, guys, you are not that interesting.”
When I first met Fr. John, he welcomed me with tea and cake in his rectory. We shared stories of favorite authors, prayers that moved us, and I learned then what a great gift he is to our Church. In time, I came to experience first-hand what a great gift Fr. John is to our family. My children can quote his stories and go to Mass as much to see Fr. John as they do to worship. I can quote his homily following the shootings in Orlando last year – almost verbatim – and it marks the first time in my life that a homily was followed by spontaneous and sustained applause. But it was not the only time that has happened since I have lived here.
Diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy some time ago, Fr. John sometimes struggles to manage the steps to the altar or the walk to the rectory, but I doubt anyone has ever heard him complain.
But today I ask you to join me in a praying for Father John as he faces a new challenge, this time against metastatic melanoma. The surgery on his head, where cancer originated, is healing well and immunotherapy begins this week in hopes of convincing his body to help in this latest battle.
Once or twice in your lifetime, you meet someone who moves you, challenges you, changes you, or improves you. That is what Fr. John has done for the Donovan clan as they began their new adventure in Connecticut.
Join me, please, in a novena for my friend.
St. Peregrine Novena Prayers
Dear holy servant of God, St. Peregrine, we pray today for healing.
Intercede for us! God healed you of cancer and others were healed by your prayers. Please pray for the physical healing of Fr. John Baran.
These intentions bring us to our knees seeking your intercession for healing.
We are humbled by our physical limitations and ailments. We are so weak and so powerless. We are completely dependent upon God. And so, we ask that you pray for us…
Today (12/4) – Pray for us, that we will not let sickness bring us to despair
Tuesday (12/5) – Pray for us, that we may persevere in hope
Wednesday (12/6) – Pray for us, that we will have the courage to offer up our suffering in union with the Cross
Thursday (12/7) – Pray for us, that the loneliness of our suffering will be consoled
Friday (12/8) – Pray for us, that the fear of death will be replaced with the hope of everlasting life
Saturday (12/9) – Pray for us, that our suffering will not rob us of joy
Sunday (12/10) – Pray for us, that in our pain we will not become selfish but ever more selfless
Monday (12/11) – Pray for us, that this sickness will teach me to depend more and more on God
Tuesday (12/12) – Pray for us, that our lives will glorify God alone
We know, St. Peregrine, that you are a powerful intercessor because your life was completely given to God. We know that in as much as you pray for our healing, you are praying even more for our salvation.
A life of holiness like yours is more important that a life free of suffering and disease. Pray for our healing, but pray even more that we might come as close to Our Lord as you are.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
May your week be blessed.