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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Fr Jeffery Jambon, LC, on Christ’s Presence in the Mission
Part 16 in a series on life as a priest.

Fr Jeffery Jambon, LC head shot
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.

Prayer fertilizers

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.

Fr Jeffery Jambon, LC, observes that there is yet another gift that helps a priest to pray: the cross.

“When the cross comes,
Fr Jeffery Jambon hearing confessions
Fr Jeffery in his new mission in Cancún, where he is associate pastor of St Michael's parish and its 7 associated chapels.
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.

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 be self-sufficiency.”

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 ourselves—and fast.

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 our endurance.”

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.

On the road

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 blessing Ghanian lady
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 everything.”

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
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.

Live wire

Part of 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 Jambon with missionaries
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 the next.

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 world.

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.



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