Over this past weekend, it was a great honor to witness, along with many other friends, not only the Priestly Ordination of another long time friend, Fr. Bede Clark, OSB but also his Mass of Thanksgiving the following day. The ordination took place on Saturday, July 8 at Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside, California through the apostolic authority of Bishop Steven J. Lopes, the college roommate of Fr. Bede, and our mutual friend. Bishop Lopes is the first Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Here is Bishop Lopes’ Ordination to the Priesthood Homily.
I have known Fr. Bede since 1994 (we graduated in 1997), when we were students in the Saint Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. Along with others, many who attended this weekend quickly became friends over twenty years ago because of our mutual interest in Catholic culture, philosophy, literature, theology, sports, and the overall love of being university students in a city as beautiful as San Francisco.
These friendships were planted in such rich soil, that even now, over 20 years later, many returned this past weekend to witness Fr. Bede ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. As one friend said, we all have skin in this game. It was a long journey filled with many pitfalls and sufferings for not only Fr. Bede, but for many of us who accompanied him along the way. In his toast to Fr. Bede during Friday night’s dinner, Bishop Lopes quoting Fr. Joseph Fessio said that Fr. Bede is the glue that has kept us all together. Although some friends were not able to make it due to difficult circumstances, they were there with us in spirit.
Personally, the weekend was a token into the past, into the city, and into the friendships, where I truly learned about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church for the first time, just as I experienced in June 2015. It was in the Saint Ignatius Institute where my heart was spiritually awakened and my mind began to understand my Catholic faith intellectually, the beginning of my true conversion to Christ and his Church. The three years I spent in the Saint Ignatius Institute was the best three years of my twenties.
I can remember spending many nights in the library, in the dorms, and in the classroom with Fr. Bede and many of the friends who attended this weekend. Some of my most memorable laughter comes from the words and actions of Fr. Bede, like when he threw a book out the window or when he called the aforementioned order that was educating us a bunch of crackpots.
The weekend was not only a look into the past, but an apparition of the present and the future. When friendships are planted, watered, and pruned as these friendships have been for over 20 years, you may not see them frequently, but when you do, you can pick up right where you left off. Since these friendships are rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty, they are rightly true friendships [bold is mine], as the Greek philosopher Aristotle says.
For me, this weekend was needed. It seems to be a pattern that when I need to see these true friends, they are there to spend time with, laugh with, and reminisce about the past and talk about our present lives. The ability to see another long time friend ordained as a priest forever, as well as seeing many true friends and the religious and laypeople who taught us and guided us was needed and appreciated. It was a blessed weekend!
As I conclude this article, I ask you to pray for four things –
1. Please pray for Fr. Bede Clark as he begins his priestly ministry among his Benedictine brothers and to the people the monastery serves in San Diego.
2. Pray for vocations to the Catholic Priesthood especially for the Order of St. Benedict.
3. Pray for the rise and continued growth of good Catholic universities and institutions, like the once-great Saint Ignatius Institute.
4. Pray for good, selfless, self-sacrificial friendships rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “there is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”
This blog post is dedicated to not only Fr. Bede Clark, but to all the administrators, students, and professors of the St. Ignatius Institute between the years of 1976-2001.