New York City, N.Y., Jun 7, 2021 / 16:00 pm
It is customary for a newly-ordained priest to impart a first blessing. For Father Matthew Breslin, who was ordained May 29, his first blessing was especially poignant, as he bestowed it on Sr. Mary Strength of Martyrs, his natural sister.
"It's been a real privilege and a joy to journey through a vocation with a sibling who is also journeying through a vocation, because you just understand things that others don't," the newly-ordained priest from the Hudson Valley region of New York told CNA. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
"Certain frustrations, certain graces; it was always a treat and a privilege to go through that with her. I could always talk with her about things that I probably could not have if she were not in religious life, and vice versa."
Breslin and his sister were raised in a strong Catholic household, but also one marked by tragedy.
Breslin's father, Alex, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer while his mother was pregnant with Matthew, and his sister was two years old. The prognosis was that Alex would not live to see his son born, but he defied the odds and lived almost ten years, despite losing much of his hearing and eyesight, finally dying when Matthew was nine years old.
"From him, I got an early example of the love of the Father...it was very easy for me to see, through him, the Father's love, and also that sacrificial nature of love."
Breslin's mother, too, modeled a radical self-giving love for her children, he said, caring for her dying husband while also raising two children on her own.
"She was dealt an incredibly hard hand of having to care for a dying husband for ten years," he noted.