Hello and welcome!
As promised, this week, I am very pleased to offer you a guest blog post by another one of our newly ordained priests, Father Robert LeBlanc. I hope you enjoy his reflection as much as I did!
– Cardinal Seán
Thank you, Cardinal Seán,
My name is Father Robert LeBlanc, but you can feel free to call me Father Bobby.
I grew up in a town called Libertyville in the northern suburbs of Chicago, IL with my parents and one younger brother, Jason. My family and I split time attending Mass at our home parish of St. Joseph’s and a place called Marytown, the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Jason was the altar server growing up, while I always sat in the pews with my parents. Oftentimes, people would tell him that he would be a great priest someday, while the thought of priesthood never even crossed my mind. From the time I was little, I always wanted to get married, have kids and support a wife and children just as my father has supported my family.
I knew from a young age that faith in Jesus Christ was important because of the way my parents lived and raised my brother and me. In 2007, on Sept. 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, I did something that I now see as a crucial moment in my life of faith — I consecrated myself to the Blessed Mother at Marytown. As a high schooler simply going through the motions, I didn’t think much of it. However, looking back on this moment, which I have stored in my calendar, I truly believe it to be when Mary took me under her wing and began guiding me to her Son and to His priesthood.
Boston University was my dream school growing up. While I lived in Illinois, both of my parents are originally from Newton, MA, and I have always considered Boston to be my home. As soon as I received my acceptance letter to BU, my mind was already made up. I purchased Red Sox tickets for September and made my way to college in 2009.
At first, I wasn’t sure what degree to pursue, but I eventually settled on sports journalism because of my passion for sports. But as you may have already guessed, God had other plans for me. I became heavily involved in the Boston University Catholic Center, a place I would call my home-away-from-home in college. I began living out my faith on my own, and I made many strong friendships. I attended retreats, men’s groups, Bible studies, and I grew deeper in my relationship with Christ. Most importantly, I frequented the sacraments as I began to go to daily Mass and make regular confessions. Jesus Christ was at work in my life.
The BU Men’s Group
During my junior year at BU, another crucial moment in my life of faith occurred. The chaplain of the Catholic Center asked me if I had ever considered the priesthood. It is the first time I ever remember being asked this question, and it changed my life. I had never even considered the priesthood, but as soon as the question was asked, I knew I had to make a good discernment. I also knew that the priesthood was not at all part of my lifelong plan to have a family, and so I was conflicted. From the very beginning of my discernment, I had an inkling deep down that the Lord was calling me to the priesthood. I just had no intention of admitting it right away
Over the next several years, I finished up at BU as a student and worked at the Catholic Center for two years doing campus ministry. All the while I continued discerning the priesthood, realizing more and more that the Lord wanted me to apply to seminary. I had little desire to be a priest, so this became my prayer: “Lord, if you want me to go to the seminary, you have to give me the desire for the priesthood.” And as I began to pray this prayer regularly, my desire for the priesthood began to grow. I told the Lord I’d do whatever he asked, but for a long time, I didn’t really mean it, until one day. I was driving to work on a rainy day, and for the first time in my life, I completely surrendered to God and told Him I would do whatever He asked of me. I meant it, and I knew it. God knew it. I decided at that moment that I would apply to seminary, and I was immediately overcome with the most peace and joy I had ever felt. It’s difficult to describe, but I knew it was peace and joy that could only come from God.
To make a long story short, I applied and was accepted to St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and began to study for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston. Within the first year at St. John’s, I knew God was calling me to the priesthood.
I loved my time in seminary. While there were great challenges — easily some of the greatest of my life — God continued to give me peace and joy about my vocation. I immersed myself in formation, made some of the best friends of my life, and grew deeper and deeper in love with Christ, His Church and the priesthood.
On May 24, 2021, I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ forever. The day of my ordination was easily the most joyful of my life. During my time at seminary, I came to understand that surrender to God must be a daily occurrence. I learned that each day I must wake up and be willing to give the Lord everything. I did the same thing on my ordination day, and I try my best to do the same every day as a priest. Peace and joy are fruits of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that by surrendering to God, He has given me these fruits as great gifts. The peace and joy that I received when I first surrendered to the Lord has increased a hundredfold since my ordination.
I love being a Catholic priest, serving in the Archdiocese of Boston. My first assignment is St. Mary’s of the Assumption Parish in Brookline. I could not be happier.
People have asked me what I love the most so far in the priesthood. The answer is simple and perhaps obvious. What I love the most is celebrating the sacrifice of the Mass and hearing confessions. I absolutely love waking up every day, opening the church and celebrating Mass for parishioners. I love going to the assisted living facility and bringing Mass to people who have not had it in over a year. I love going to the Missionaries of Charity in Dorchester and offering Mass for them. I love hearing confessions whether at a regularly scheduled time or whenever people drop by the rectory and ask.
Two weekends ago, I had the greatest privilege of my life as I presided at my brother’s Nuptial Mass. I could not have been happier. While I once thought that our roles might be reversed, I knew in standing in front of the altar, God had us right where He wanted us. God does indeed work in mysterious ways, but we must surrender to Him in order to allow Him the space to do so.
My brother Jason and I at his wedding
Gratitude is the only word that suffices to sum up my first month-and-a-half as a priest. I am grateful to God for calling me to the priesthood. I am grateful to Cardinal Seán for ordaining me. I am grateful to my parents and my brother for their unconditional love and support. I am grateful to my friends who have always encouraged me in my vocation. I am grateful to my seminary formators and all the priests in my life who have helped me become the priest I am today. And I am grateful to each and every person who has prayed for me. God has undoubtedly accepted those prayers, and through them, given me the grace to persevere.
For those discerning a vocation, whether you are called to the priesthood, religious life or marriage, my biggest piece of advice is to surrender yourself to Jesus Christ. Give Him everything, and you will receive more in return than you can possibly imagine. I pray that you receive the peace and joy that God has given me in my life.