[Editor’s Note: Blessed Sacrament Father Ernest Falardeau composed the following article. He has been a religious for many years, and is presently serving in our New York City community. His vocation story is an inspiring example of a Eucharistic Life of service to the Church.]
No one likes to be alone. We have an instinctive need to be with others, with family and friends. There were ten children in my family, six boys and four girls. The oldest was twenty years older than the youngest. And so there was a lot of variety in my family. The special moment in our daily life was when we gathered at the dinner table together. There we shared our life, the stories of our day, our adventures and misadventures. We shared our lives and loved one another.
Leaving the family nest to go to the minor seminary was not easy. But it was easier for me because my older brother, Normand, preceded me there four years earlier. I knew many of his friends who visited him during the summer. I was encouraged to bring my trumpet along to help to form the Eymard Seminary Orchestra. It was like extending my family. In fact that was what attracted me to the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Brothers. It was my extended spiritual family.
As a youngster I had been attracted to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I asked to be an altar server when I was nine and was allowed to do so. In this way I met diocesan priests and was able to develop my love for the Jesus in the Eucharist. At the seminary we attended Mass every day and spent some time in Eucharistic Adoration. The studies were challenging but it was an opportunity to learn and prepare me for the future. Each year we were asked to write a letter asking for permission to move to the next year of studies at the seminary. We were free to do so or not. The choice was ours.
There were similar “decisive” moments during the time of formation, for example, entering the Novitiate at Barre, Massachusetts, making first vows, and preparing for ordination leading to the priesthood. These decisions were formative and helped me all my life. Another choice was to study in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University. I welcomed the chance to do so and earned a doctorate in theology at that university. My dissertation on Eucharistic Service in the Writings of St. Peter Julian Eymard: A Theological Analysis (Rome, PUG, 1959).
After ordination, I was sustained as a priest by the life of prayer and the different communities in which I served and found fellowship. After serving as a teacher in the minor and major seminaries for twenty-five years, I was asked to serve at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had followed the sessions of the Second Vatican Council and was impressed by its ecumenical thrust. Work and prayer to “reintegrate” Christian churches and ecclesial communities seemed like a great cause and a vocation within my vocation. And so when the Archbishop of Santa Fe, NM asked me to serve as ecumenical officer of the Archdiocese, I accepted with the consent of my superiors and support of my community. I served in that capacity for twenty-four years. An added blessing in that assignment was Father Normand’s assignment to St. Charles Borromeo a year after I had arrived. He served there until his death twenty-five years later.
New York and the Future
In 2003, I came to New York City and served my community as the local Superior. I enjoy my assignment here where I continue to contribute to the ecumenical mission of the Church and our Congregation. I maintain a blog on the Province’s web site (click here) dealing with Ecumenicism. In spite of some health problems I am still able to celebrate Mass in the beautiful church of St. Jean Baptiste (I was ordained there with my classmates in September 1956) and to continue my ministry, prayer and religious life. It has been a joyful and beautiful life. It has prepared me to see God face to face and to join the great family of God in heaven. I look forward to seeing my family, friends and members of my Congregation there.