|Fr Jeffery Jambon, LC|
Part 16 in a series on priestly experiences and insights,
published on Thursdays in the Year for Priests.
January 7, 2010.
In a culture where so much of life is made
swifter and easier by technology, it is sometimes harder for
us “moderns” to experience the raw truth of our dependence
on God. A day of solitude and silence is rare;
cell phones and the Internet keep us connected, and there
is no lack of talking heads to fill our living
rooms with chatter. Cushioned by conveniences and surrounded by noise,
we can grow accustomed to a kind of interior emptiness
in the midst of a whirlwind life.
For priests, too,
it is not always easy to pray—they also experience distractions
and times of spiritual dryness when prayer seems to be
without special lights or consolations. But the required moments of
connecting with God through the breviary, the Mass, and the
prayers of the religious priesthood are a great support. They
are opportunities to “come away for a while” and find
a pocket of silence where the soul can breathe.
Jambon, LC, observes that there is yet another gift that
helps a priest to pray: the cross.
“When the cross comes,
it usually gravitates around weakness or inadequacy,” he explains. “God
may permit it so that I, the priest, can have
a free choice to trust Christ more, to depend much
more on him. When one is numb from lowliness, the
reaction is to support oneself on something stronger outside oneself.
Prayer becomes interesting, meaningful, and bold; it becomes your daily
bread in more ways than one,” he says.
|Fr Jeffery in his new mission in Cancún, where he is associate pastor of St Michael's parish and its 7 associated chapels.|
What is more,
he notes, “it can produce strong compassion toward others and
a propensity to forgive others more quickly and frequently. If
everything were easy and always went well, the tendency would
No microwave success
Dealing with the cross can sometimes be
complicated in a culture where self-sufficiency is seen as an
ordinary virtue, and where we are accustomed to fixing problems
For Fr Jeffery, the passage of the raising of
Lazarus has always resonated as a reminder of God’s mysterious
timing and his constant, if discreet presence in the midst
of hard times.
“It amazed me how Jesus waited around and
didn’t just snap his fingers to success. I know he
does this to us, too. There are no instant success
stories in the progress of virtue. Christ will always test
But as we struggle along with whatever difficulty humbles
us, Christ isn’t away on vacation.
“In the middle of testing
their stamina, Jesus weeps for the burden they experience because
of the test he gave them. This shows me that
Christ is not an indifferent bystander. He is interested before,
during, and after.”
In a word, Christ is always present.
He is present especially through his priests, who sometimes find
that the mission takes them to unexpected places. Fr Jeffery
has been on HELPING HAND medical missions to Ghana, Africa
twice, accompanying a team of volunteer doctors and nurses who
|Fr Jeffery Jambon, LC, gives a blessing to a woman while on missions in Ghana, Africa.|
gave free medical care, including surgeries, to the local people.
While the doctors cared for the people in their makeshift
clinics, Fr Jeffery also opened up a “clinic” of his
own nearby, offering counseling, prayer, blessings, and when possible, the
sacrament of confession.
The experience showed him yet again the
deep need for priests in today’s world.
“It was amazing
to see the needs and fears of the people. Jehovah
Witnesses, Mormons, Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans, Spiritualists, Catholics… they all poured
into my ‘clinic’ searching for a blessing, a prayer, and
a sound piece of advice. There were many suffering from
voodoo type curses,” he observes.
“The poverty and misery of
so many children of God makes one reflect and wish
to do more so that souls can find him in
In more developed countries as well, there are moments when
the priest witnesses how deeply souls yearn for Christ, and
how much peace they find when they come back to
Him, even in their eleventh hour. While in Wisconsin covering
the hospital duties of a local parish priest, who was
taking a well-deserved vacation, Fr Jeffery was called in to
minister to a dying 85-year-old patient.
“Giving three sacraments was
quite the experience,” he says. “As he lay there—helpless, humanly
speaking—only Christ and his grace were able to give him
a sense of peace and hope.”
Now in his parish ministry
in Cancún, Mexico—another region of great poverty— he is “sending
someone to heaven” every week. As he cares for the
|Fr Jeffery Jambon celebrating Mass at one of the chapels linked to St Michael's parish, Cancún.|
faithful of St Michael’s parish and its seven associated chapels
in the nearby towns, his days are spent bringing God
into some of life’s most significant moments: births, deaths, marriages…
and also sickness. Sometimes, a single day takes him from
the very old to the very young, as life’s mysteries
pass in front of his eyes.
Recently, he responded to an
emergency baptism request at a local clinic. The recipient of
the sacrament was a dying newborn baby tiny enough to
fit in the palm of his hand. Within the space
of a few hours, that little child was going from
one birth to another: from earthly life to eternal life.
It was a short and sure road to heaven, a
journey guided by the hands of a priest.
the job description of a priest is to be a
reminder of God’s presence in a world that sometimes loses
sight of him. While he was stationed in the States,
Fr Jeffery observed that the mission was sometimes as simple
as running his daily errands.
“Going public in my complete habit
(black suit and Roman collar) helps me to remember that
I belong to God—and that the people of God need
to see that some of ‘their own’ belong to him!”
says Fr Jeffery.
“There is a difference when I’m dressed
up versus dressed down. Even though secularism is stronger than
ever before, people show a greater courtesy for God’s sake
when I am in clerical garb. I don’t take in
|Fr Jeffery with a group of HELPING HAND medical missionaries in Ghana.|
compliments for myself. I just thank God that He is
still thought of by people out there, and it is
all for God.”
In a world full of ambient noise, we
do need people who serve as reminders of God’s presence
among us in the person of his priests, whose consecrated
hands bring him into this world and guide us into
St John Marie Vianney, the holy Curé of
Ars, said it best: “Everything has come to us through
the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts.
If we had not the sacrament of orders, we should
not have Our Lord.”
In a way, every priest is
a live wire – a vital connection between us and
God’s grace. And once that connection is made, there is
no telling how much light can be shed over the
Fr Jeffery Jambon, LC, is originally from New Orleans, LA.
He entered the Legion in 1989, completing his novitiate in
1991 in Ireland and going on to study classical humanities
in Salamanca, Spain. He then earned a Bachelor’s degree in
Philosophy in 1994 at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in
Rome. Studying Theology in Rome again from 1998 to 2001,
with pauses in Germany and Poland for the apostolate’s sake,
he was ordained to the priesthood on December 22, 2001
at St Mary Major’s Basilica in Rome. His apostolic ministry
has taken him to Chile, Sacramento, California, Wisconsin, and currently
the Mayan Missions in the city of Cancún, Mexico, where
he serves as the Associate Pastor of St Michael’s Parish
with its 7 chapels.
View a linked list of the other
articles in the series here.