Happy 13th Ordination Anniversary, Dear Friend

It is a special day for our pastor and friend.

Today, Fr. Jeff Lewis celebrates the 13th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. On May 26, 2011, he answered God’s call and became a living sacrament of Christ when Cardinal Blaise Cupich ordained him a priest for service within the Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

Fr. Jeff celebrates 13 years of priestly ministry today. He was ordained by Cardinal Blaise Cupich on May 26, 2011.

When I wrote about Fr. Jeff’s 12th anniversary of ordination a year ago, little did I know all he would do between that time and today. It certainly has been a banner year for our family priest. Over the past 52 weeks, Fr. Jeff delivered an incredible talk at SEEK, launched a parish-wide evangelization challenge, produced major increases in average weekend mass attendance, made a grand slam principal hire that positively changed the trajectory of our school, and so much more.

Fr. Jeff receives the gifts from Sloan during a St. Mary School mass just a few weeks ago.

However, this year’s ordination blog post isn’t about delving into his many successes as pastor of St. Mary Parish. Nor is it to highlight his numerous priestly merits (I did that last year). Rather, the purpose of this year’s post is to thank him for being such a good friend.

Fr. Jeff has a close relationship with Sloan and Beau. My kids think the world of him.

In the four years that we have known Fr. Jeff, he has always nourished our family with the sacraments and sound spiritual direction. Over the course of this time we have also had the pleasure of getting to know him on a personal level. Thanks be to God, he has always been just a text message away for our family. But this past year we grew even closer and our friendship blossomed.

We are blessed to call Fr. Jeff a dear family friend. (photo courtesy of Carl Lockwood).

When I look back on the past 12 months, it seems like many of our family’s memorable events included Fr. Jeff. From spending Hoopfest weekend together to watching Cougar football in Pullman to “guy’s night” at the rectory to birthday parties to dinners, we have had the blessing of enjoying these good times alongside Fr. Jeff.

We joined Fr. Jeff Lewis and other St. Mary friends on a fun road trip to watch the Washington State University football team defeat the University of Colorado.

There is nothing like hanging out in a seemingly “non-parish” public situation with Fr. Jeff. Although we might be outside the walls of the physical St. Mary church, he is truly always on call as a disciple of Christ. This is evidenced by the many people who approach him for counsel, request a blessing, or call out “FATHER” when walking in a crowd (alright, Fr. Jeff is really tall so he does stand out).

Achieving success during Hoopfest 2023 was great but spending the weekend with Fr. Jeff in-between games was just as awesome.

What I am trying to say is that being a friend of a priest is eye-opening because you are constantly reminded of how much they are needed. Observing this firsthand via our friendship with Fr. Jeff has not only underscored the importance of priestly vocation but has left little doubt about how much our tall friend cherishes his.

Sidney sits next to Fr. Jeff during a break in action during Hoopfest 2023 (and of course Sloan had to be close by as well 😂). It was so cool to see so many approach Fr. Jeff during that weekend.

For all the great times we had with Fr. Jeff over the past year, the undisputed highlight came just last week. Sidney and I had the blessing of presenting with him at the latest Spokane Diocese Engaged Encounter retreat. Over the course of three days, we worked together to deliver five different marriage-based presentations to 14 engaged couples. I would say the chemistry between the three of us was pretty evident 😉. To minister with our friend in such an intimate and important way was pretty special.

The last night of our Engaged Encounter retreat, we had a little celebration for Fr. Jeff after all the programing was done for the day. What a blessed weekend it was!

As Fr. Jeff celebrates his anniversary today, I know there are scores of parishioners—both from St. Mary and his past parishes—who are celebrating his 13 years of priestly service too. Count us in that bunch! For our family, we are celebrating a priest who gladly eats our cooking, humorously inserts Sloan’s name into mass, and gladly accepts Beau’s hugs. We are also thanking God for a priest who genuinely cares for our salvation. Whether Fr. Jeff is saying a mass for our family, hearing our confessions, blessing our house, or doing a multitude of other things, we know his desire is that we make it to Heaven.

Fr. Jeff blessed our house in September. We know our salvation means a lot to him.

Throughout this past year, I have heard Fr. Jeff express how he is filled with joy and peace for the gift of his priesthood. As he embarks on the next 13 years of his priestly ministry (and the next 13 years after that, etc.), I hope the Holy Spirit continues to swell those blessed fruits within him. Please pray for our friend. Don’t Blink.

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