Saturday, January 8, 2011
My Pilgrim Story by Deacon Paul J. Carrier
As I reflect on my life I have to start from the time when I first came back to the Church after being away for many years. It was my youngest son who drew me back to the Church. He would come home from Mass and C.C.D. classes with my wife and he would have so much joy in his heart and I wanted what he had. I made the decision to come back to Church much to the surprise of my family.
It was through a gentle and caring Priest that I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist after a long time of being away. Once I started going to Mass every Sunday my hunger to learn more about the Eucharist began. I started attending Prayer Meetings to share my faith and to learn from others. My thirst for Jesus grew more and more and I started going on retreats and conferences. I found myself volunteering at my Church wherever needed.
Still searching I started going to Church at noontime and sitting in front of the Tabernacle since my job prevented me from going to daily Mass. Sometimes I would talk to Jesus and other times I would just sit and listen and let him speak to my heart. I knew Jesus was there and I would feel His peace when I would go back to work.
In the fall of 1984 after a series of tests I found out I had colon cancer. When my doctor called me and told me the news, I hung up the phone and ran out of the house to the Church. I did not know how to react, so I went to the Blessed Sacrament and yelled at Jesus. I was so angry that he let this happen to me. If anyone else had been in the church at the time they would have thought I was a very disturbed man. After that experience I had what I refer to as my black days.
A good friend of mine who is a Deacon helped me through this time of my life. After talking to him I went back to the Church and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and asked God to forgive me. As it is written in the Gospel I said at that time “Your will be done”. I had so many people praying for me that I pulled through two major operations.
The following year friends invited us to go on a Marian Pilgrimage to Portugal, France, Italy, and Medjugorje. In the small village of Santarem Portugal we visited the Church of St. Stephen where it is believed that the oldest recorded Eucharist Miracle occurred when the Host turned to flesh. This miracle has been on continuous display since 1269. A Priest carried the Host in a Monstrance through the church. He walked by me and then to my surprise he turned around and touched me with the Monstrance. I felt a peace come over me like I have never experienced before and I felt at that moment that I had been healed. I have been cancer free for almost twenty-six years. I felt God calling me to serve him in a deeper way on that Pilgrimage, but I did not know how. I knew my life would be changed forever.
It was a year later that I was accepted into the Diaconate Formation Program and I started classes. After each class, our Director at the time would celebrate Mass. It was at these Masses that I received the strength through the Eucharist to follow through. After a long day at work and two to three hours of class it was the Body and Blood of Christ that gave me strength to continue. I was ordained a Deacon in 1990 along with eleven other men who have become very special in my life.
After Ordination I had the privilege of going on many more Pilgrimages to Europe. One of the highlights was when I attended a Mass in Ares at the chapel where St. John Vianney, the Patron of Parish Priests, would celebrate Mass. The Priest celebrating Mass had the honor of using the Chalice that St. John Vianney used. He asked me to give the Precious Blood of Jesus to the people at Mass.
A few years after I was ordained I had the opportunity to do full time Parish Ministry at the Parish that I was assigned to, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Gardner, and I now have the privilege of receiving the Eucharist every day. I not only have this privilege, but I am able to share this Gift with others. I bring the Eucharist to people in the hospitals, nursing homes, and to the elderly and the sick at home who are no longer able to go to Church. Sharing the Eucharist with others gives me so much Joy.
I have experienced several Pilgrimages since 1985, the last four with 206 Tours. The last one was this last October with Fr. Pat from La Salette Shrine as Spiritual director. I had the honor of going back to Santarem Portugal and thanked God for my healing and for changing my life. I pray that I will be able to do more Pilgrimages.