By DEIRDRE C. MAYS
NORTH CHARLESTON — Installed on the altar, a newly made priest, Father Bob Sayer looked out fondly at his family and friends in the congregation of his home church, St. Thomas the Apostle, and exclaimed: “I made it!”
At his first Mass on June 27, the freshly ordained apostle thanked almighty God for his vocation and told the crowd that, actually, they had made it too — they had played some role, noticed or unnoticed, in his journey to the priesthood.
Even with all the excitement and ceremony, the priest used his homily to focus on Jesus and not on himself. He spoke of hospitality, noting that southerners think they wrote the book on it, but reminded them that Jesus exemplified it best when he washed the feet of his disciples.
“Hospitality is service to others,” Father Sayer said. “The more we try to extend his love to others, the more we try to be like Christ, the more we become like Christ.”
St. Thomas the Apostle Church is like that, he continued. The parish is one that reaches out to others and he spoke of it proudly.
“All of us gathered here today claim the name Christian, of Christ,” he said. “The way God has given us to prove that we are ‘of Christ’ is how we deal with our brothers and sisters.”
After inspiring the faithful to offer themselves in service with a sense of joy, Father Sayer thanked a plethora of people including Father Augustine Esposito, his spiritual director from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., who had vested his student during the ordination and attended the Mass of Thanksgiving.
His parents, Doug and Carolyn Sayer, received a heartfelt offering from their son.
“The purpose of the priesthood is to offer the sacrifice to God,” he expressed. “You two, by your example and by your love, taught me what a sacrifice was. I know God is so pleased by the work that you have done.”
After Mass, his beaming parents remarked on what it was to experience a liturgy celebrated by their child.
“It’s very dramatic to watch your son on the altar,” Mrs. Sayer said. Her husband added: “We were just proud that he stuck it out for that long.”
Father Sayer was pleased too.
“It felt good, it just felt right,” he said. “It’s what I’ve been waiting for for so long.”
The wait is over. On July 21, Father Sayer will begin his ministry as parochial vicar at St. Michael Church in Garden City.