Our plan is not always God's plan
When we make plans, the Lord laughs and guides us to His plan for us. “The Lord has a sense of humor,” said Fr. Paul Wilkin SDS.
“On June 23, 2019, I was ordained a Salvatorian priest, and I thought my plan and God’s were the same,” said Fr. Paul. “However, between then and January 2020, my plans kept being revised by the Lord.” The obvious goal in Fr. Paul’s heart was that three days later, with a U-Haul in tow, he would arrive in Tucson, Arizona, to begin his ministry at the Salvatorian-led parish of Most Holy Trinity and Franciscan-led parish of San Xavier del Bac Mission.
Fr. Paul was immediately needed to attend a graveside funeral for a prominent elder from the Tohono O’odham Nation. “This was a profound experience for me being able to learn more about how their culture deals with death,” said Fr. Paul. “Since that experience, I’ve learned to open my heart more to the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s plan for me.”
Newly ordained Fr. Paul became a part-time assistant priest at both Most Holy Trinity Parish and San Xavier del Bac Mission in Tucson, Arizona. As a blueprint began to evolve on how this bi-location ministry would work, there was an abrupt change of plans, COVID-19 came into our lives. Traditional ministries, Masses, and the administration of sacraments to parishioners all needed rethinking. There were no pandemic ministry protocols in place for how to proceed, so Fr. Paul asked for direction from the Holy Spirit concerning ways to fulfill the Lord’s plan.
He has been responsible for recording Masses for participating in online viewing. This new reality has him behind the video camera and immersed in hours of pre-and post-production work for each Mass to make them engaging and viewable online. Nearly a year later, with two parish websites rejuvenated and over 80 videos produced, Fr. Paul has been very busy.
“Serving at two culturally different parishes with many diverse subcultures has been a blessing. Following the Lord’s plan has given me a vast missionary experience within the US borders that was never on my radar,” said Fr. Paul. “In a way, the Lord is a bit of a comedian. He smiles, telling you a story, letting you get comfortable with where you think the story is going, and then suddenly lands the punchline.” The story is now different. The Holy Spirit gives you clarity, insight, and direction, helping you realize the Lord’s plan is the better plan.
Lessons from the desert
Now living and ministering in the Tucson desert, Fr. Paul Wilkin SDS reflected, "The Sonoran Desert is not as one might think. It’s beautiful to see flowers that abruptly bloom on the cacti. Many of them open for a short time, only bloom at night and are already shriveled up and dying by sunrise.
This makes me more aware of those little things in life which may be here one moment and gone the next. In ministering to people, it starts with listening to them and hearing what they are saying. It could be a beautiful gem of the workings of the Lord within them, or the hint of where they are carrying their crosses."