I have been blessed to know so many beautiful priests, good shepherds. Today I want to remember Father Greg Staab, OMV (Oblates of the Virgin Mary). Fr. Greg was a dear friend and prayer partner of the John 10:10 Prayer Ministry and the first spiritual director of the Kiss of Mercy Prayer Apostolate for Healing from Abortion which began 5 years ago on the Feast Day of Saint Joseph, March 19, 2016.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. Sirach 6:14-15
Fr. Greg was a holy, saintly priest who lived his life "all for Jesus through Mary". He was ordained in Rome by Saint John Paul II in 1984. When he was a 19 year old seminarian, he was with his fellow seminarians one day and they were all discussing where their priestly ministries would bring them. Fr. Greg said, "I want to be a saint." His desire to be a saint shaped his life, his priesthood and his ministry. He had a deeply rich priestly ministry which took him from Rome to Boston, Massachusetts, then to California, Argentina, the Philippines and back to Boston. His humility had a profound effect on countless souls.
Fr. Greg had a very rare disease and spent over three years in the hospital where he continued his priestly ministry from his hospital bed. He had the assistance of his brother priests and seminarians of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, as well as two very special friends, Walter and Ria. Being in the presence of Fr. Greg, you were not aware of his suffering for he said he had offered it to God. He had the same twinkle in his eye and love for others that he had before his illness began. Fr. Greg loved everyone.
There was a constant flow of visitors to see Fr. Greg: priests, seminarians, sisters, friends, hospital patients and hospital workers. As long as he was able, he celebrated Mass followed by a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration every day. He continued to offer spiritual direction and the Sacraments from his hospital bed. He inspired me and so many others with his deep love for the Eucharist and for Mary, our Immaculate Mother, his love for prayer and for the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, his devotion to his Guardian Angel and all the Holy Angels, to Saint Joseph, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Faustina, Saint Francisco and Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He had a burning love for The Divine Mercy of Jesus and continually spread the message of The Divine Mercy of God in Jesus Christ who bestows upon us unimaginable graces when we approach the Fount of His Mercy. Fr. Greg worked tirelessly for the salvation of souls. He offered spiritual direction, based on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and taught others to make and renew their consecration to Jesus through Mary through Saint Louis de Montfort.
It was a great grace for me to be at Masses Fr. Greg celebrated from his hospital bed. At one Mass, during his homily on the Gospel of Luke 7, Fr. Greg spoke about the widow whose only son had died and how Jesus raised the young boy from the dead. He said Jesus performed the miracle of raising someone from the dead only three times in the Gospels.
The only son of the widow had died and his body was being carried out. A large crowd was with the widow. Jesus saw her and was moved with pity and said, "Do not weep." Then Jesus moved forward and touched the coffin and said,
"Young man, I tell you, arise!" Luke 7:14
Immediately, the dead man got up and spoke. Then Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized the crowd and they glorified God.
During the homily, Fr. Greg said the greatest miracle occurs when a person goes to confession.
Fr. Greg said, "Never stay away from confession. Go often and go immediately, if you have mortal sin. If your house is on fire, do you wait six months before you call the fire department? Of course not. What would happen if you didn't clean your kitchen for a month? You can't wait if your house is on fire or if your kitchen has not been cleaned for a month. And so it is with your soul. Confession is the place where a soul is resurrected from the death of sin to new life through the Sacrament of Reconciliation."
The story of the widow whose only son had died is a story of how Jesus brings new life out of death. He wants us to know that all things are possible with Him. He wants us to come to Him, as we are, and He will make new life in us. Jesus will bring new life to you, in unexpected ways.
God brings new life in our spiritual lives too, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Have you experienced a loss or gone through a period of sadness, when someone speaks a word of comfort that lifts your spirits?
Have you read a verse of Scripture which touched your heart deeply?
Have you listened to the music during Mass and felt a surge of love come upon you?
Have you received the Sacraments and experienced God's love in a new and profound way?
Have you prayed for something or for someone and your prayers were answered?
Have you prayed, in confident trust, that your prayers will be answered, in God's perfect timing?
Our hearts are made for love. Fr. Greg led a life of love, love for God and for others. God is always near and He waits for the perfect moment to come inside, to bring us new life. There may be times that we are not open to receive His grace. God will come, even through the tiniest crack or opening in our hearts, like the crack between the sidewalk and the granite foundation of my church, where new life burst forth in tiny yellow pansies.
God delights in you and He wants to do something new and unexpected in your life. Open your heart and invite Him in. Ask Him to help you let go of the things that keep you away from His Presence. He will come to you. He will help you and He will bring new life in you. Go to confession and go often. Like the little yellow pansies coming out of the crack, Jesus will come into your heart and He will say to you, "Arise!"
Immaculate Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Priests, pray for the repose of the soul of our beloved Fr. Greg Staab, OMV. May he rest in eternal peace.
His master said to him, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Matthew 25:21