I Needed To Put My Fears Aside

The New York Mets have been building a new home, a new field of dreams in Flushing, Queens, which will open in April of 2009.  There are many ways to get to the new stadium, Citifield, all depending upon one’s starting point.  There is no wrong way to get there, maybe faster ways, but no wrong way.  Some may take some detours and visit all of the boroughs’ that make up New York City before one gets to the final destination: Citifield, yet he or she will finally reach Citifield!

The route that I took to the priesthood may not have been the most direct route in some people’s minds but it definitely was the proper route for me! I know it was the right route because I was absolutely immature at the age of ‘twenty –something’ to make lifetime commitment to God as a priest in His Church.

I did enter Cathedral College in September of 1977 after I graduated from Msgr. McClancy High School.  However, in all honesty I was at Cathedral College for a good time, not for a long time! Hence my route to the priesthood took a detour as I decided I need to explore other ‘things’ in life.  I left Cathedral College in November of my sophomore year at the age of nineteen.  I worked many odd jobs during the following years, even owning a little business at one time, while also going in and out of various colleges yet never really following the “GPS” that God had already mapped out for me! If you can believe it, I really thought “I can do it my way!” Boy was I ever wrong!

I was blessed to have faith filled parents who lived the Gospel daily at home.  They preached the Gospel as St. Francis Assisi suggested, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words!” My parents lived the Good News of Jesus Christ. How blessed my brothers and sisters were!  Besides my parents I was set apart with four sisters and seven brothers that loved me unconditionally [and still do] and have supported me with their love, forgiveness, mercy and humor, which helped me slowly mature into the person I was to become.

As I tried to map out my life journey, one thing, [or as they say in Brooklyn, “One Ding”] I did right along the journey was that I always stayed close to my home parish, St. Francis de Sales in Rockaway Beach, volunteering in many ministries and sports programs that were offered there. And I also stayed close to a priest that I looked up to since I was eight years old, Msgr. John J. Bracken, who to this day continues to inspire me in his priesthood.

I was also blessed by having truly great friends that supported and encouraged me at every intersection of my life! Friends that stood strong and tall and picked me up whenever I lost direction.  How thankful I am for friends!
I worked for close to twelve years as a member of local union #3, of the IBEW as an electrician and loved every minute of the work! I worked with great people, men and women that truly graced my life, yet I knew in my heart something was missing! I loved being an electrician! Yet I knew God was calling me and it was time To Follow! I kept crossing my wires, until I finally saw the light. I kept trying to change the directions that God had for me and all I did was run into Dead End Streets.

 

I realized that I needed to put my fears aside and let God give me the directions to follow, [which at times is still hard to do.]  Once I surrendered and admitted I may have lost the way, and listened to God, my life became extremely peaceful. I re-applied and entered Cathedral Residence in January of 1997 and our Blessed Mother, Mary, began to guide me along the journey to the priesthood of her Son, Jesus Christ. The long, strange trip of my life began to become a journey of peace!

What a journey it has been! As I allowed God to become alive in my heart I slowly began to mature. I slowly recognized the love that was planted on both sides of the road, as I looked outside of myself and my self-centeredness and followed Christ, who was calling me, to come out of the darkness.

I have been a priest for six and a half years and have loved every minute of it! I pray to God a prayer of Thanksgiving every day, thanking God for the gift of the priesthood that He called and guided me to at a great age. An age which was just perfect for me, because it was Not too old –NOR-  Not too Young,”

Fr. Peter Rayder

Fr. Peter Rayder ‘02 is the Pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish, Rockaway Point.