by Fr Daniel Herrero
It is difficult to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary without someone making the usual comment: ‘Time flies.’ It may sound like a cliché, but the fact is, time does pass very quickly, at least when you are enjoying yourself or are so busy as to lose all notion of time. In my case, I would say it is due to both that my first year at Our Lady of Victories, Kensington has gone so quickly.
I landed back from my summer holidays in Spain on 3rd September 2018 and, with my suitcase, I went straight to Our Lady of Victories. I was welcomed very warmly, and I have to say that the same warm atmosphere has remained in the house for the entire year. I spent my first few days in Kensington bringing the rest of my things to my new home. However, before I could open all the boxes, Sunday arrived and with it an amazing transformation. The parish, which until then had been rather quiet, was suddenly teeming with families and children. I was very happy to find such a big, vibrant and warm community here in the middle of London.
From the beginning, I knew that moving from Our Lady and St Catherine in Bow, where I lived for a year as a deacon, to Our Lady of Victories was an important step. In comparison with the church in Bow, Kensington seemed gigantic to me and so were the presbytery, the sacristy, the congregation: almost everything was so much bigger. I now had, as a priest, many more tasks and responsibilities.
Kensington is as enjoyable as it is busy. In this year, I had the opportunity to minister to lots of people, Catholics and non-Catholics, in many different circumstances. It meant that in this relatively short period of time I have been given lots of opportunities to learn, to grow and to put the Gospel into practice.
Needless to say that growth and learning come always hand in hand with challenges: the workload, the lack of time, difficult encounters with people, managing their high expectations, accompanying them through very difficult times, and all my personal struggles, insecurities and limitations. However, in all these ups and downs, God has remained faithful and there has not been a day when I have not been able to thank him, for all the graces he gives me. Every night, as I sit quietly to pray the final hour of the Divine Office before going to bed, even after the most challenging days, I always have the same conviction: that I am in the right place, that God created me for this ministry and that it is in this ministry that I will develop to my full potential.
As I come to the end of my first year as a priest, I thank God for the gift of priesthood and for having guided my life to this point. I also hope and pray that he may grant me many more years of life to continue in this ministry, and that he may keep calling many more young men to serve him and the Church as priests.