Ordination of Four New Priests
May 21, 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Saturday, May 18, was ordination day. This is a very special time for the entire Church, as we welcome the newly ordained into the priesthood of Jesus Christ. On that weekend, family, friends and the faithful looked upon these men as their new priests, keeping in mind that they would also be the future pastors of their children and those not yet born.
There was one part in the ceremony that brought a few tears to the eyes of the congregation. At the offertory, the mothers of the newly ordained one by one brought forward the gifts used at the sacrifice of the Mass. After they presented me the gifts of the chalice and paten, the hosts, the wine and the water, one mother turned to her son and embraced him – not once, but twice. This was the child she once cradled in her arms; this was the little boy she taught how to pray. Now this man is a priest. I thanked mom for the gift she brought to the altar, not only for the article in her hand but, most importantly, for the son she nurtured and now presented as her gift to God.
I imagined the priests at the ordination were a bit like married couples attending a wedding. They must have been in some manner remembering their moment when they made the commitment to live as a priest of Jesus Christ for the sake of the Church. After I imposed hands, the sacramental act of ordination, the auxiliary bishops and the priests followed suit. As I watched, each of the priests serving in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee imposed hands on the heads of the newly ordained. I couldn’t help but think that through this touch, they were trying to transfer all their experience and wisdom accumulated through years of priesthood. They wanted to impart the joys, the sorrows, the challenges, but mostly the love they have experienced in the lives of those they served in the name of Christ and His Church. Of course each priest is called anew to take their experiences and join them to Christ, who is priest and victim for the salvation of souls.
Therefore, Patrick Burns, Phil Shumaker, John Paul Mitchell and Arulananthan Ponnaiyan will begin to shape the priesthood given to them by the Church, bringing their own talents and experiences to the communities they serve. They will begin to understand that the priesthood is not about them, but about the person of Jesus Christ, and as they live their priesthood with that knowledge, they will conform themselves more and more to Christ crucified, whose sacrificial act witnesses the unconditional love of God.
And God willing, next year when we celebrate the ordination of priesthood, Arul, John Paul, Patrick and Philip will bring the experiences of their priesthood and will impose their hands in solidarity with their fellow priests, thanking God for sharing in the life of Jesus Christ in the priesthood that serves our communities, by following the command of Jesus to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Alive in faith,
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee