Celebration of the first Masses of Father Matthew Nobrega, SHM, and Father Joseph Valley, SHM, in Jacksonville, Florida (United States), January 3-5, 2015.
The Home of the Mother of the United States has had the great joy of attending the first Masses of two of the three recently ordained Servant Brothers of the Home of the Mother. Fr. Matthew Nobrega, native of Florida, and Father Joseph Valley, a New Jersey native, came to share the joy of their ordination with their blood family and with their spiritual family of the Home of the Mother, and to celebrate their first Masses, here in the United States, during a series of masses throughout three days.
The Priests arrived in the afternoon of January 2nd, in order to rest and be ready to celebrate the Sunday Mass at Assumption Parish in Jacksonville, Florida. In the United States, the feast of the Epiphany was moved to Sunday the 3rd, so the first mass of Father Matthew here was the mass of this Solemnity. Both the members of the Home and Father’s relatives enjoyed this mass in a special way. It is such a joy to attend a Mass where the Lord in the Eucharist is treated with the utmost respect, in an atmosphere of worship, and where the preaching is full of spirit and truth. Father Matthew said in his homily that the priest is a sign of Christ's love for his people. After the Mass, we went to the parish hall to eat together and continue celebrating this great event. After the meal, we had a family like meeting, in which the Servant Priests told us how the ordination went and how they found their calling to the HM Servants Brothers. We ended the evening with the recitation of the Rosary in Thanksgiving to Our Mother for continuing to call priests to her Home.
The second day of their visit was dedicated in a special way to Our Mother. We all met up at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Leche, the place where in the 16th century the Spanish missionaries landed to evangelize and where the first Mass on American soil was celebrated. This shrine is a privileged place, since in this land many martyrs shed their blood for the Lord, finding strength to do this in the Virgin Mary. In this shrine, Father Joseph Valley celebrated mass and, in his homily made reference to the image of Our Lady of the Leche. In this image, the first thing that catches your attention is the Virgin Mary, but, following the gaze of the Virgin Mary, you see that she is contemplating Jesus. Father told us that this is what the Virgin Mary does. At first you are attracted to her beauty, her purity, and all her virtues, but if you continue looking at her, she teaches you to look at Jesus and to contemplate only Him. The Virgin Mary was very present in this small sanctuary and we ask that these new priests have the same strength and courage to spend their lives in service to Christ in the same way that the Spanish missionaries did five centuries ago. At the end of the Mass, we had a 'picnic' and a bit of free time with the families on the grounds of the shrine. Before we left, we went through the Holy door of the Church in order to gain the indulgence in this the Year of Mercy.
The last day was Tuesday, January 5th. The Servant Priests celebrated Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception and were able to hear many confessions. In the afternoon, we had a holy hour at Assumption Parish, in which Father Joseph gave us a meditation on the Incarnation, and Father Matthew listened to confessions non-stop. In this way we ended these days of great joy. We will continue to pray for our priests, to be holy and to never separate from Our Mother. We also ask the Lord to continue sending workers into His harvest, since there are so many souls that have a great thirst for God. How will they know God if no one talks to them about Him?