Pope Francis repeated the word “together” several times when he spoke to the Saint Mary Seminary community during their trip to Rome earlier this year in celebration of the seminary’s 175th anniversary.
He was the homilist at the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit on Aug. 26 at the Center for Pastoral Leadership. The liturgy traditionally kicks off the new pastoral year for the ministries at the CPL, including the seminaries, permanent diaconate formation, lay ecclesial ministry and continuing education. Bishop Edward Malesic was the celebrant with Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost, Father Turner, priests from the seminary faculty and clergy in diocesan leadership as concelebrants. Special guest and concelebrant was Bishop Pedro Bustamante of the Diocese of Sicuani, Peru, who was visiting the Cleveland Diocese for a mission that weekend with Deacon David Vargas.
Father Turner used the analogy of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to illustrate our closeness to God.
“There is a right way to make the sandwich,” Father Turner said, explaining it’s important to put some peanut butter on both pieces of bread before adding the jelly. “That way you always get the peanut butter and jelly and none of the jelly seeps through the bread. It reminds me of the closeness God has with us. He wants to be with us.”
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He told those gathered for the liturgy that God never abandons us. “His spirit is always with us. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Even if we can’t express what we need, God knows. Jesus promised his disciples that even though he was returning to the Father, there always would be someone with them. They would be sandwiched together because God is so close to us that we can never be scraped away,” Father Turner said.
“For those of us in ministry, God’s spirit is so close that it is sandwiched to us and we are never separated from him. We know our world desires us to remove God from the conversation about topics like abortion and other topics,” Father Turner said, “but we can never remove him from the conversation or from life. As we enter this new pastoral year, do we desire to be sandwiched with God?”
Just like there is more than one way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we all have unique gifts that we are invited to share and bring to the altar, he said.
Father Turner asked for prayers as he steps into his new role as president/rector of the diocesan seminaries. “One day we all hope to be sandwiched to God for eternity,” he added.
Bishop Malesic installed Father Turner in his new role during the liturgy.
In remarks after Mass, the bishop noted Father Turner left one question unanswered. “Skippy or Jiff,” he quipped.
On a more serious note, he said Jesus came to us out of love, died to redeem us and rose from the dead to give us eternal life.
“Today, I installed Father Andy as the ninth Borromeo rector and the 24th Saint Mary rector,” he said. The bishop also recapped Father Turner’s priestly ministry, noting he was ordained in 2006 and served in parish ministry for a few years before being sent for further education. After earning advanced degrees, he returned to teach at the seminary. Father Turner spent several months in 2022 as a consultant for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as they worked on a new program of priestly formation.
“Father Mark (Latcovich) brought his gifts of ministry and now you bring yours. I have every confidence you will give what you’ve received and help us form the spiritual leaders we need for the future of our Church,” the bishop said. “The goal is to have good and holy priests, deacons, lay ecclesial ministers and others. You know it takes courage to get out there today.
Bishop Malesic said people might question why men discern and answer the call to priesthood.
“It doesn’t matter what others think. Let the Lord, the Father, form you. Not everyone understands this. We believe the truth will set us free – the truth of Jesus Christ. We have the answer for the confusion, division and anger of today. His name is Jesus Christ. Handle yourself and everyone in your community with love, patience and kindness,” he said.
After congratulating Father Turner again, the bishop told him the new family he serves includes all at the seminary. They want you to succeed as much as I do. Listen to them, pray and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. I know you are a man of many gifts and God has given you to us as a gift,” he added.
A lunch followed the liturgy with the CPL cohorts – seminaries, the permanent diaconate, lay ecclesial ministry and graduate school – introducing their new students/members, as well as the new faculty and staff.