Chers frères et sœurs dans le Christ, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Welcome all of you who have come to celebrate the Eucharist here in the Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame, as we celebrate in awesome wonder the ordination of two priests for service in the Archdiocese of Ottawa.
On this day of their priestly ordination, I greet Richard Lorenz and Gerard Plant and offer a special word of welcome to their parents, as well as their relatives and friends who have come from western Canada, where both were born, from elsewhere closer to Ottawa and from Japan.
I welcome particularly warmly Father Edwin Gonsalves, Rector and several staff members and seminarians of St. Augustine’s Seminary, where both men took part in their formation for the priesthood. Thank you for all you did to prepare Rick and Gerard for this day.
I welcome my auxiliary bishop, His Excellency
Christian Riesbeck and Ottawa diocesan officials—the
vicars general and episcopal—my brother priests and deacons, and the religious
women and men. I am pleased that some of the Ottawa seminarians are here to
assist by serving at the altar; soon enough, we pray, it will be your turn to be
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CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF NOTRE DAME—ARCHDIOCESE OF OTTAWA—JUNE 19, 2015
VOCATION, COMMUNION, MISSION: PRIESTS FOR TODAY
[Jeremiah 1.4–9; Psalm 89; 2 Corinthians 4.1–2, 5–7: John 17:6, 14–19]
Chers frères et sœurs dans le Seigneur, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ: In the Gospel of Mark, which provides the gospel passage for most Sundays this year, we read, “Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve… to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority” (Mark 3.13–15). This passage points to the three-fold challenge of discerning, shaping, and living the call to be a diocesan priest: vocation, communion, and mission.
The first reading from Jeremiah tells the truth that God has a plan for each of us, from the moment of our conception in the womb of our mother. With the gift of life comes the invitation to live in an intimate relationship with God. On this occasion of a priestly ordination, we give thanks to the parents who shared with us, as co-creators with God, the gift of life. They also provide for us, through baptism, the rebirth to eternal life.
Then, for the baptized disciple, comes the sifting out of desires, attractions, and experiences to determine how in this world you will live your life with God. How will you fulfill his purposes for you? Each aspiring seminarian and priest, over time, comes to see that Christ is inviting him to intimacy with him. Christ then calls them to be sent out on mission.
Rick and Gerard, may you find time, each day of your priestly life, to nourish your personal and intimate companionship in prayer with Jesus. He is your teacher, your friend, and—for all time—the Lord of your life.
Vocation; now communion.
When a man believes that the Lord is calling him to serve the faithful as a priest, he enters seminary and undertakes a period of formation. That formation is at once human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. During this time, he enters into a process of solidarity with his local church: with the bishop, the priests and religious, parishioners, and people in need. Here is the formation of communion. This is fellowship in a common purpose, as Jesus and the apostles formed in their common life together.
The expression of this is in the sense of the presbyterate, this band of brother priests who team up with the successor to the apostles in the diocesan church. Rick and Gerard, you are entering into a wonderful band of priests here in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. The men are mainly English-and French-speaking, but there are others, too, whose ministry is carried on in their mother tongue. Many are from this local area, but others are, like you, born elsewhere in Canada or in other countries on most of the world’s continents.
As he did with his twelve apostles, Jesus is drawing us into a band of brothers. Do all you can to foster that unity and fellowship that we are called to share. Work on your French. Take part in pastoral days, the priests’ retreats, and study days. Don’t skip regional meetings. Contribute your insights. Take an active part in discussing the pastoral challenges we face. Seek the solutions the Holy Spirit is moving us to embrace.
Realize in fact the vision that St Paul proposed to us in the second reading. Refuse to practice cunning but openly state the truth. As the disciples of Jesus experienced, disagreements will arise. Rivalries may threaten. Do all you can to manifest to everyone, including brother priests, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Vocation, communion; now mission.
The gospel passage we heard tonight is from Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, in which Our Lord asks the heavenly Father to protect his disciples as he sends them out. They are to love the world but not to be of the world. This has always been a continuous task of discernment. How to undertake the New Evangelization is going to be the continuous task of the newly-ordained in this time in the Church’s history.
So, too, is seeking ways to minister to families who are struggling with the strains of life today. The circumstances are all too familiar: marital breakdown, blended families, young couples fearing the commitment of marriage—all the issues to be discussed at the Synod on the Family in Rome this October. Finally, under the direction of Pope Francis’ leadership, show the loving gaze of the Father and of Jesus on all who yearn for the grace of forgiveness, hope, and new life, especially in the coming Year of Mercy.
Never be afraid to show God’s merciful compassion to all whom you encounter. Jesus has prayed for you and your mission. Trust him to guide you in carrying it out.
Vocation, communion, mission. As we have reflected on the challenge of the priesthood today, let us listen to the Church’s traditional charge to the ordinands and to us who accompany them on this pivotal occasion in their lives:
Since these our brothers are now to be advanced to the Order of Priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised. They are to serve Christ the great Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his Body, the Church, is continually being built up here on earth into the People of God and the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Priests, joined to the priestly office of Bishops, will be consecrated for the preaching of the Gospel, the sanctification and nourishment of God’s people, and for divine worship, especially in the Lord’s Sacrifice. With the help of God, they should go about all these duties in such a way that you will recognize them as true disciples of him who came not to be served, but to serve.
Now, dear sons Richard and Gerard, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part, you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God, which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.
In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the People of God. Let the holiness of your life be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church.
Likewise, you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the Sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the Sacraments.
Understand, therefore, what you do, and imitate what you celebrate. As a celebrant of the mystery of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful, and to walk in newness of life.
Remember, when you gather others into the People of God through Baptism, and when you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the Sacrament of Penance; when you comfort the sick with holy oil and celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the People of God but for the whole world—
remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God.
Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.
Know that in doing so you have the support of the angels and saints, your patrons, and above all Our Blessed Mother Mary; stay close to her under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of the Americas and Guiding Star of the New Evangelization.
Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.