Jesus said: “I call you friends.”
That reminder was offered by The Very Rev. Martin Solma, Provincial of the Marianist Province of the United States, the main Presider at the mass to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Fr. George Cerniglia. Not even tripping and falling outside the chapel as he pursued a runaway hat could keep Fr. Martin from presiding over Fr. George’s renewal of vows –surely a testament to the power of friendship –and pain tolerance.
“Mutuality, not authority was the message Jesus exemplified by his life,” he said. And Fr. George’s six decades of fidelity to his vows as a Marianist reflect his wholehearted embrace of that teaching. He has prayed by listening, giving those who leaned on him the freedom and confidence to share what Fr. Martin referred to as “our lights and our shadows.”
A few hundred of the many in Hawai`i to whom Fr. George Cerniglia has been just that kind of friend and confidante, pastor and gentle guide, packed the Mystical Rose Oratory on the Chaminade University campus this sunny May morning to give thanks for the gift of his vocation.
Kentucky, Baltimore, Toronto, St. Louis, Rome, Hawaii–wherever his steps have taken him, Fr. George has left a clearly discernible trail of friendship, punctuated by meals and movies shared with good friends. We were blessed to be a part of this truly joyous, loving celebration today.