A year after I returned from Novitiate as an Oblate I went back home for my brother's wedding. There grandfather Rolheiser approached me and asked in German, "Söllst du ein pater werden" "Do you think you will become a priest?" I said, "Es guckt alles gut aus." "Everything looks promising." Then he said, "Na, wenn es nur so wird." "If only it will come to pass." Grandfather shook my hand for the last time and walked away.
I was told later that he wept. Two days later he died suddenly. He wept, yes, but I am sure he also sang Simeon's hymn, "Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace; you have fulfilled your word. For my eyes have witnessed your saving deed." Lk.2
In the heart of my grandfather I imagine there must have been a strong sense of how my brother's vocation to the priesthood would impact the spirituality of the family in the next generation and the generations to come. My grandfather would have been very aware of the faith of our German-Russian fore-fathers that had survived 148 years in Russia.
With what care the faith that had originated in Germany, had been safe-guarded and nurtured through the stay in Russia and through the immigrant experience in Canada. And now the richest blessing imaginable was being sent from God on high to be treasured and nurtured through prayer for the next generation.
I had the privilege of witnessing the fulfilment of grandfather Rolheiser's dream as my brother served God through 50 years of priesthood, now still working as a missionary in Canada's North. I can see the impact of his life and example on my siblings.
I can testify to the positive impact on my life and the spirituality of my children. How many times my two brother priests and a sister nun have been there for family weddings, baptisms and many happy celebrations. How many times they have been a great consolation at family funerals where the ultimate meanings of life are weighed.
Now as a grandfather myself, I can imagine what a blessing of the heart it would be to have grandchildren dedicating their lives to God in such a profound way.
Through Baptism we all partake of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Ours is the role to minister to our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, neighbours and friends and all the world. Ours is the role to proclaim the Good News, to help God's Kingdom to come.
Through no fault of his own my grandfather had not heard about Vatican II and the direction the church of his heart and soul would take in the next 50 years. What a privilege to be here in this generation in the year of our Lord 2011.