I started praying for this priest before I even knew I was a Carmelite, someone with a special job to pray for all Catholic priests around the world.
I was an emotional mess during the Mass. It was so beautiful. Father Mario's younger sister is already a professed nun. She has a special friendship with my daughter Hannah and our family. I had a letter from her sitting on my mantle after receiving Baby Abigail's birth announcement.
It was unbelievable to watch this sweet priest celebrate his first Mass. To know that his Mom and his Sister had prayed so much for him. His whole parish family had nurtured this vocation since he was 8 years old. One of the first people he told about his vocation at age 8 is a African missionary originally from our parish who I love, Father Bill. It was so incredible thinking about how Father Bill's loving interaction with a young alter boy lead to the beautiful priest I saw before me. Those of us to have daily contact with the 'infant Christ child" are so very, very blessed.