BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Monsignor Craig Harrison, a staple of this community and a dear friend to many celebrated 30 years of being a father, teacher, leader, and priest.
"I was very emotional today because I didn't think about everything until I walked down there and I thought, 'I can't believe its been 30 years,' said Monsignor Craig Harrison. "And yet I'm happier today as a priest than the day I was ordained."
Father Craig was born and raised in Bakersfield. He answered a call from the Lord and became a minister when he was just 22 years old.
Community members joined Msgr. Craig to celebrate his 30 years of ministry at a special mass Tuesday night at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
"As a priest, I look at 30 years and go, 'I can't believe this much time has gone by, I can't believe I'm getting older,' Harrison said. "But in the same sense, I have just as much drive and excitement today and passion that I felt like when I was ordained, and maybe hopefully with a little more wisdom."
Msgr. Harrison spent the past 18 years as pastor of St. Francis of Asissi parish in Bakersfield, influencing an entire community with his growing wisdom, constant joyfulness and deep love of the Lord.
"He's just a wonderful priest, a wonderful person and I'm very grateful for him," said St. Francis parishioner Carol Naworski. "To have him in Bakersfield is really a blessing. He's a good shepherd."
What he thought would be a small gathering turned out to be a large crowd, a surprise for the humble priest.
"He was instrumental in helping me through a very difficult time when I was pregnant with our daughter... whose middle name is after Father Craig," said Longtime friend Maria Lorenzetti. "And he has been a blessing in our life and I wanted to be here to celebrate with him today."
Lorenzetti-Davis gave her youngest daughter the middle name Frances, in honor of the minister who means so much to her, her family, and our community.
"I learn from them. They've made me a stronger and better priest. So in Bakersfield this has been a give and take. Bakersfield continues to give me and show me that love and support and I can't wait to just continue to give back to it." said Monsignor Craig.
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