Cardinal Wuerl Ordains Nine Men to the Priesthood
“It falls to each priest to be the face of God’s mercy”
WASHINGTON – In an action that can be traced back to the Apostles, nine men were ordained for ministry in the Catholic Church today by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington.
Reflecting on the meaning of the ordination, Cardinal Wuerl said it “transforms those to be ordained and, at the same time, empowers them to carry out a ministry that goes all the way back to the Apostles and makes present again for us the very love of God. “
Cardinal Wuerl ordained Alec Scott, Angel Fermín, Conrad Murphy, Daniele Rebeggiani, Martino Choi, Matthew Fish, Robert Maro, Santiago Martín Sedano and William Wadsworth at the Mass of Priesthood Ordination at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. There are 67 other men currently preparing to become priests for the Archdiocese of Washington.
The cardinal reminded the men that their ordination was occurring as the Church prepares for the Jubilee of Mercy – a holy year that focuses on God’s loving mercy and our capacity to share that great gift. “It falls to each priest to be the face of God’s mercy, the perennial reflection of God’s love, to a world facing so many questions, dilemmas and challenges that ultimately find answers only in God.”
“This ordination is also taking place in an age of renewed focus on our Catholic identity and in a culture that questions it,” the cardinal said. “Our Catholic identity, even when challenged, should remain for us a source of conviction and pride. An aspect of our Catholic identity is our recognition of what recent popes have referred to as human ecology. Pope Francis in his encyclical, Laudato si, highlights that “human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself. We recognize that as we open ourselves to life in the Spirit, radiating fully Christ’s love and truth, we can also bring joy to a world that so desperately needs God.”
The cardinal told the new priests to always love the Church as Christ loves his Bride. “As the Lord Jesus gave himself up for the Church, so too should your love – the love that brings you to the altar today – always embrace the Church. In the holy anointing you are about to receive, be blessed and in turn be a blessing to the people entrusted to your care. They call you “Father” for they see in you the Lord’s love for them,” he said.
After making a promise of obedience to Cardinal Wuerl and his successors, the nine men lay prostrate before the altar, symbolizing their total giving of self, just as Jesus laid down his life to bring salvation to the world. The litany of saints was then sung and included the names of apostles and martyrs from the early Church as well as holy women and men of recent times, including Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II.
Then, in a gesture of apostolic origin, Cardinal Wuerl laid hands on each candidate’s head, the essential act of ordination, as a sign that the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them and each is configured to Christ as Head of his Church. The more than 100 concelebrating priests from the archdiocese also laid hands on the heads of the new priests. “This transforming gift of grace parallels sacramentally what took place as Jesus stood in the Jordan and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him with the voice from Heaven announcing: ‘This is my beloved Son. Hear him,’” the cardinal said, in describing the focal point of the ceremony.
The nine new priests were then clothed with the stole and chasuble, the vestments of the priestly office, and Cardinal Wuerl anointed their hands with Sacred Chrism. After receiving the offertory gifts from family members of the new priests, the cardinal handed the paten and chalice to the newly ordained and offered them the sign of peace, as did their new brother priests.
Moments later, the nine new priests joined their archbishop at the altar for the consecration. The new priests then offered their first blessing to those at the Mass, and then processed down the aisle to applause and cheers. “Never forget this morning. Always hold deep in your heart the realization that what you are asked to do at the service of Christ’s Church is truly God’s call,” the cardinal told them at the end of his homily.
Downstairs in designated chapels, hundreds lined up to receive a personal blessing from the new priests, including family members, friends and some of their brother priests.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
CONTACT: Chieko Noguchi