• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Thursday, 29 September 2016 11:26

50 years of faithful service in the Lord's vineyard - a reflection

Fr Frank Gerry SVD 150This homily was delivered by Fr Frank Gerry SVD (pictured left) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Fr Jim Knight SVD's priestly ordination.

We gather here this morning to give thanks and to celebrate the priestly and missionary life of Fr Jim Knight, Divine Word Missionary – fifty years of faithful service in the vineyard of the Lord!

This is a real achievement, isn’t it! Something worthy of celebration, not just by the individual but by the community at large, for Fr. Jim did not achieve this alone. That is why he has gathered his family and friends here this morning.

Gratitude fills his heart, and gratitude fills our hearts too:

Gratitude to the Lord who called him from the country town of Narrabri, and who sustained him in his worldwide travels and who guided him in his ever creative, caring ministry throughout the years.

Gratitude for the support of family, friends, confreres, and especially the multitude of people who welcomed him into their community and offered him the hospitality of their own hearts throughout half a century.

There is a multitude of unseen people here to celebrate with us this morning, and Fr. Jim welcomes them in a special heartfelt, grateful way.

Fr Jim came to Alice in June 2007 to lead a group of SVD confreres in a pastoral and mission ministry that was entirely new to them here in Australia. There were lots of things to learn and unlearn. The learning and the serving continues apace. The SVD is deeply grateful to all who have welcomed us here.

The Origin of a Dream:
Before saying anything more about Fr Jim’s years of priestly service, let me first of all acknowledge Fr Jim’s family members present with us this morning:

Fr Jim’s sister, Margaret Hope, his niece and nephew, Kathleen and Bill Hope, grand-nephew, Calum Hope and partner, Gabby; and cousins, Sue and Peter Coyne, Sabina Knight, and Brandon Williams.
It is important we honour the origin of a dream - the family circle.

In addressing a few words to Fr Jim’s family members, let me say that you probably thought yourselves, at best, to be on the sidelines of Fr Jim’s life and service. Not so! The bloodline and the family faith-line are ever present realities and unseen sources of strength. Your spirit was there with Fr Jim’s own heart and soul through all those fifty years and more. I am only stating a fact, the reality of life in the Spirit.

Fr Jim has told me of being influenced by two publications that found their way into his family circle – THE WORD magazine and the CHRISTIAN FAMILY magazine, both published by the Society of the Divine Word; the former, THE WORD, published in Ireland, the latter, THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY, published in the United States. Fr. Jim says, “My mother subscribed to THE WORD magazine and I grew up reading it avidly. Aunty Sadie subscribed to the CHRISTIAN FAMILY.”

These two magazines evidently nourished his desire to serve abroad in the mission field, but in saying that one does not under-estimate the heartfelt faith of his mother who as a child was herself touched by Divine Word Missionaries who lived not far from her Eastwood home in Sydney. She saw to it that her son, James, was nourished by the breadth of vision and grace that is at the heart of a missionary vocation.

Such a fact shows the positive effect of good Catholic literature.

Mindful of these family influences, Fr Jim has written me saying, “After a rather long gestation period I entered the Divine Word Mission Seminary at Marburg, Qld. on 25 March 1957.” There, in those words, he is acknowledging the nourishing effect coming from family life.

From the seminary in Marburg, Fr Jim travelled to the States to complete his studies and personal formation at St. Mary’s Seminary, Techny, Illinois. In 1968, ten years after he first entered the seminary, Fr Jim was ordained a priest in his own hometown of Narrabri, New South Wales; and a short while later, he left to join his SVD confreres working in Papua New Guinea.

There he worked for fifteen years, both as a parish priest and as an occasional teacher at the Melanesian Pastoral, Missionary Institute, Goroka.

A Personal Characteristic
Fr Jim Knight speaks with parishioner in Central Australia 350An element that runs right across Fr Jim’s priestly, missionary life has been a keen desire to engage with colleagues and people in general who seek ways of evangelising that show an understanding and a respect for the wisdom and culture of the people. That was especially true in Papua New Guinea, the major part of his missionary involvement, but it is also true here in Alice Springs. Just recently he hosted the symposium run by our mission specialist, Fr Roger Schroeder from the United States. The topic of the seminar was Indigenous Theologies.

This attitude moved him to seek further mission studies in Canada; and this too was what was behind his assignment to Hong Kong where he served as the coordinator of the missiology programs of the Divine Word Missionaries across Asia and the Pacific. This interest too was what was behind his years of teaching missiology at the Yarra Theological Union, Melbourne, from 1999 to 2007.

In 2007, he was appointed parish priest of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish here in Alice Springs. And till today Fr Jim is still in that same thoughtful mode of creative, respectful ministry.

Today’s Readings
I’d like to turn now to the readings that Fr Jim has chosen for this morning’s liturgy, for here we get to the heart of the matter – - to the inner workings of a man’s heart and soul and his intimate, life-giving relationship with the God he serves.

The prophet Isaiah is speaking for the Lord, “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Again and again, the priest has to learn the truth of these words and their humbling effect upon his own sense of self and what his efforts amount to. He is deeply and intimately involved in a mystery of life and grace that is quite beyond him. He knows keenly the human limits of his efforts, no matter how generous the intention.

But that’s not all!

He also knows the grace and truth of Isaiah’s other words, “So my word goes out from my mouth it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
The priest is also witness to this power of God’s word again and again in his ministry and in the lives of people. As St. Paul says we are custodians of a mystery of grace and a ministry of healing.

It is deeply humbling, and at the same time deeply refreshing and privileged to witness the power of God’s grace in peoples’ lives. This discovery helps to sustain the priest in the ups and downs of his life. It is God’s work we are involved in - - and that work is a work of grace and transformation.

In the Gospel reading Jesus lets us into the secret prayer of his own heart – his expansive desire and prayer for those close to him: “I pray for all those who will believe in me through their message” (Jn. 17:20).

And then there is Jesus’ own confession of what they mean to him, ”I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me” (Jn.17:22).
How to awaken to this prayer of Jesus within us? And how to live within this circle of life and love between Jesus and the Father?

How to live deeply and consciously that one is included in the prayer of Jesus to the Father?
It changes everything. It takes one into a realm beyond words and thoughts . . . beyond . . . beyond . . . really, into God’s own life!

Conclusion:
These are the thoughts I wish to share with you on this great occasion – the Golden Anniversary of Fr Jim’s priestly ordination. Thoughts, I hope, that acknowledge the profound mystery of Divine Life and Love that we are part of, as expressed for us long ago in the words of St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians,

“To know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of the utter fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19).

This is what we celebrate!