The following was written on June 7, 2022, the 25th anniversary of Fr. Peckman’s priestly ordination. He is pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Macon, St. Mary Parish in Shelbina, St. Patrick Parish in Clarence and the Mission of Sacred Heart in Bevier.
When a priest celebrates his anniversary, he isn’t celebrating how many years on his job he has been. Priesthood isn’t a job. Being a pastor or a teacher or a chaplain are jobs.
Being a priest is like being married. It is a calling from God to fidelity, love and self-giving, all in the service of God and His people. It is total dedication, faithfulness and selflessness, like a good husband does for his wife.
Being a priest is like being a dad. It means providing, protecting, instructing, counseling, interceding for and loving those placed under his care, like a good dad does for his children.
Being a priest is 24/7, just like being a husband and dad is 24/7. It isn’t a job ... it is a relationship. It does not shut on and off.
Today, I celebrate the 25th year of my ordination, not the 25th year of a job starting. I am thankful for most every moment. In these 25 years, I have served under three bishops and three popes. I have served 14 parishes. I have moved six times. I have prayed for and encouraged young men to think about priesthood since Day 1.
I am a blip in the overall picture. I will have served a statistically insignificant percentage of the flock for a statistically insignificant percentage of Church history. The Church was around for almost 2 millennia before I came, and it will stretch into eternity long after I am gone. But God has called to me to serve this tiny flock for this tiny time.
At the end of the day, I remember the great quote of St. Theresa of Calcutta, “God does not call us to be successful, only to be faithful.”
That tiny flock will need another shepherd, as do other tiny flocks, when the Lord calls me from this life. It is my earnest desire, since Day 1 of these 25 years, that more young men who would have the qualities of a future good husband and dad follow God’s will to serve those tiny flocks.
So, if you are looking for the perfect anniversary gift for me, pray a Rosary for priestly vocations for our Diocese of Jefferson City.
If you are young man ... think about it and pray about it.
If you are a parent, encourage your sons or grandsons. Bring out the best. You will have my undying gratitude.