I Was Able To Listen To The Lord

Even as a teenager and then a college student at City University – and as much as I like the noise of a big family, lots of good friends, playing piano in a rock band…-  I found myself also enjoying quiet time.  I would work out alone, walk the dog late at night through the factories of Sunnyside, travel solo by bike all around Queens, and I found myself talking to God (in a way different than at Sunday Mass.)  there was something about that other (holy?) relationship with God that was touching my heart in a place where nothing else had reached.

On a ‘dream come true’ summer bike ride to California from Queens, I found myself alone in the Mojave desert for about a week.  It was in that surprising time (obviously some plans changed along the tour and I wound up without a partner) I was able to listen to the Lord.  It was there that He gave me the strength to take the leap into a possible life as  a priest.

I had always enjoyed my work with people.  There was  a wonderful experience for a few years in a nursing home, and then some time with a group home for mentally challenged adults.  I found myself staying later and later at those jobs and really enjoying my service.  Of course, I always loved helping out at the church – playing the organ for choirs, working fundraisers, bazaars, and even bingos!  I found it very pleasant to be around such good people.  While priests, religious, and Catholic laity may not be perfect, they are sincerely good people who are a joy to work with.

As I look back on 21 years of ministry as a priest, I simply thank God for bringing all my hopes to reality.  I’ve felt called to work with the  poorer parishes, and that can sometimes be difficult.  Their lives are often unstable and chaotic.  And yet, it’s exciting to see the Spirit work wonders and change lives through the church.

One of the prayers we offer in our breviary asks God to keep us from ever being discouraged due to lack of results.  I have found that fidelity to prayer, the rosary, and Eucharist sincerely prayed each day has sustained my priesthood.  In some parish situations, and most especially working with the immigrants, undocumented, materially and spiritually poor, we can have bad days.  There have been many bad days.  But I can honestly say that when I kneel down each night before bed, I always thank God for where He has taken me.  I have never once, not even once, wished that I had done something else with my life.

Fr. Frank Shannon

Fr. Frank Shannon ‘87 is the pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea, Far Rockaway.