‘A milestone of God’s grace’

Father Miguel Soeherman, M.F.V.A., celebrates silver jubilee

On Sept. 8, Bishop Raica celebrated Mass at the Our Lady of the Angels Chapel located on the Eternal Word Television Network’s (EWTN) studio campus in Irondale, marking the 25th anniversary of religious profession of Father Miguel Marie Soeherman, M.F.V.A. The complete text of the bishop’s homily follows herein.

My sisters and brothers – and in a special way, Father Miguel Marie of Our Lady, Mediatrix of all Grace – it is my joy to be with you celebrating the 25th anniversary of your first profession. Today, we share with our local community here in Irondale and the Birmingham metro area, as well as with all of our viewers across the globe today, Father Miguel’s faithful commitment to the Franciscan Missionaries. It is a milestone of God’s grace that allows us to reflect back with you when your vocation was blossoming and, at the same time, renew our prayerful commitment to you, Father Miguel, to support your vocation each and every day as you witness Christ to us.

It is during this year, 2023, that you commemorate your 25th year since you made your first profession, having done so on March 25, 1998, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, exactly two years after you entered the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Such an anniversary is always a moment of thanksgiving to God and a celebration of God’s gifts to the faith community of His presence and fidelity to those He has called and commissioned.

In addition, on this day, we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the entire Church – nine months after the liturgical celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on Dec. 8 when our Lady was conceived without Original Sin, uniquely and providentially anticipating the effects of Christ’s victory over sin and death, in the womb of her mother, whom we call Anne.

Today, let us reflect a moment on the significance of this day and the lessons we can draw from the Gospel of Matthew’s elaborate genealogy.

At first glance, the genealogy seems like a long list of names and generations. Rather, it is, in fact, a testament to God’s divine plan unfolding through history. It reminds us that God works through ordinary people, in ordinary circumstances, to accomplish extraordinary things. In this list of unusual and familiar names we find saints and sinners, the faithful and the faltering, kings and shepherds, all woven into the tapestry of what we call “salvation history.”

In the same way, we celebrate today not only the Nativity or birth of Mary, who would become the mother of our Savior, but, at the same time, 25 years of Father Miguel’s first profession into the Franciscan community. In Father Miguel’s journey of faith, we see God’s plan at work, too. Like individuals in Matthew’s genealogy, he has been an instrument of God’s grace, bringing the love and mercy of Christ to all he has served.

St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order, is often remember for his simplicity, his love for all creation, and his deep affection for the Church, and for the proclamation of the Gospel. It is no coincidence that Father Miguel answered God’s call to live in the spirit of St. Francis, whose life was marked by humility, service, and dedication to the teachings of Christ, responding to the call of Christ Himself, “Rebuild My Church.”

Throughout his priesthood, Father Miguel has been a bridge between Heaven and earth – an alter Christus, bringing us the sacraments, God’s Eternal Word, and the love of the Church to our community. He has been a source of comfort in times of sorrow, a guide in moments of uncertainty, and a beacon of hope in a world often marred by darkness.

Just as Mary’s birth signaled the dawn of a new era of salvation, Father Miguel has been a source of light and grace for us all. He has embraced the call to serve with the heart of a true disciple, mirroring the love and compassion of our Lord.

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Mary and honor Father Miguel’s 25th anniversary of his First Profession, we remember that God’s divine plan continues to unfold through us, His people. We are all part of the genealogy of faith, and each has a vital role to play in God’s ongoing work of salvation as we pray, “Thy kingdom come!”

May we be inspired by Mary’s unwavering faith and Father Miguel’s ongoing commitment to the Franciscan charism and life. On this day, we also renew our own lives as disciples of Jesus, serving God and each other just as Mary and Father Miguel have done.

Finally, we thank his family for sharing Father Miguel with us. My prayers remain with you as you support his call from God to serve as a Franciscan Missionary among us.

Continuing our celebration, we reach down into our hearts to thank God for the inestimable and radiant gifts of Mary, the mother of our Savior, and we thank God for the presence of Father Miguel’s 25 years of faithful service as a Franciscan in our community. May our lives, like theirs, be a testament to God’s love and grace, shining brightly in a world in need of hope. May God bless you, Father Miguel!