Bishop Noonan reflects on the Peace of Christ and vocations

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
John 14:27

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Peace be with you!  Jesus’ Peace is not the type of peace by which we have come to understand in the secular world. It is not merely extending an olive branch to someone with whom we are disgruntled or even to establish peace with another country. The Peace which Jesus offers is a gift of salvation, connoting the bounty of messianic blessing. His Peace is the breath of the Holy Spirit, it is His last breath upon the Cross, it is total forgiveness, acceptance and complete love. It is what we are fed within the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This Peace dwells within the true sanctuary of Jesus and we are members of this household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.

Within this foundation of the apostles and prophets, we continually offer prayer for vocations. As a climax to this prayer, we commemorated World Day of Prayer for Vocations a few weeks ago on May 12. This particular day affirms the primacy of faith and grace in all that concerns vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. Pope Francis reflected on how the Lord’s call to a vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated life makes us bearers of a promise and, at the same time, asks of us the courage to take a risk, with Him and for Him. “Such a decision carries the risk of leaving everything behind to follow the Lord, to devote ourselves completely to Him, and to share in His work . . . And yet, there can be no greater joy than to risk one’s life for the Lord!” says our Holy Father.

It is with great joy that I announce the Ordination of Deacon Derek Saldanha to the priesthood on May 25. Deacon Saldanha is of Indian heritage and hails from a parish of the Diocese of Orlando, Holy Name of Jesus in Indialantic. Deacon Saldanha credits St. Francis Xavier for his vocation, “St. Francis Xavier is my favorite saint because he is the saint who evangelized the land that I come from. He was zealous for the Gospel. The moment the Lord touched his life, when he was studying at the University in Paris, he began boldly preaching and that’s why I am here, because of his zeal.”

Deacon Saldanha is a humble man, with an interior spirituality, yielding his own zeal for the work of the Lord. He said recently of his Ordination, “This is how the Lord wants me to help people, by bringing them back in relationship with Him through the power of the Sacraments.”

It is also with a humbling joy that I send forth Father Christopher Dorsey, parochial vicar of St. James Cathedral, who will now serve with the Archdiocese for the Military Services in the Army as a soldier and chaplain. He will return to the Diocese of Orlando when his military assignment ends.  Father Dorsey also hails from Holy Name of Jesus in Indialantic. His journey of priesthood has been a blessing for the parishioners of Holy Redeemer, St. James Cathedral, St. Rose of Lima, and St. Margaret Mary, as well as his fellow classmates when he was in the seminary. About his own Ordination, Father Dorsey said, “Now I finally get to go out and be a sign of the Church, a sign of Christ’s love for the world.” So he has and will continue to be.

My sisters and brothers in Christ, during this joyous season of Easter, let us remember Jesus’ prayer of Peace for us. Let us multiple His prayer through our own daily prayer of living, built upon the foundation of the household of God.  Within that foundation, let us pray for Father Saldanha and Father Dorsey. Pray for all our priests that they will proclaim God’s Peace as Sacrament. May our prayers draw inspiration from Mary, the Queen of Peace, who sang in the name of all mankind: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).

Bishop John Noonan
Diocese of Orlando
May 22, 2019