My name is Fr. Matthew Graham and I serve as the priest for the St. Joseph Circle in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. I was invited to join my circle while I was a deacon during my internship at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Baton Roue. I was hesitant to make a commitment since I was only in the parish for 5 months and would then be returning to the seminary to finish my studies. However, I was encouraged to attend the meetings by the animator couple and to be as active as I could. The first meeting I attended in July 2015 was amazing. I was definitely interested, but hesitant on a commitment. I continued to attend and finally made the decision after much prayer and discernment with spiritual direction to commit to my circle. They were so excited. They even worked to have circle meetings to when I would be able to return from the seminary.
Now as a priest I can say my priesthood is all the more enriched and strengthened by this great interaction between the two Sacraments of Service. Especially as I was approaching my ordination to the priesthood, my circle helped to instill in me the import_ance of prayer and dialogue in a relationship as well as the grace needed to live out one's vocation. I was preparing to affirm my lifelong commitment to the Lord whereas these couples have been married at least 5 years already. My circle has truly become an import_ant part of my priesthood and my life. Our monthly meetings are something that I look forward towards. My understanding of marriage has grown whereas the couples in my circle have learned a lot more about priestly formation and the daily life of a priest.
I am forever greatly for this opportunity to be part of this great lay movement that is impacting and strengthening marriages in a time when the faithful need it the most.
-Fr. Matthew Graham