Cardinal Wuerl Ordains Three Men to the Priesthood
“Ours is a call to accompaniment. It is the careful, quiet, persistent, kind and caring pastoral ministry that leads to conversion and even to a desire to share the Good News with others.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a liturgical rite that can be traced back to the Apostles, three men were ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic Church today by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington. Family, friends, and priests attended the Mass of Ordination for Andrew Clyne, Kevin Fields, and Oscar Ramirez in the upper church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by reflecting on the symbols of the liturgy and of the rite about to take place.
“What we are doing places us before a profound mystery of faith,” the cardinal said. “In fact, the ordination ritual is an invitation to enter into the spiritual reality of God’s saving presence with us. Thus we use the ritual, symbols and signs to help us encounter with our senses what we can really only experience with the eyes of faith.”
These three men receiving “ordination into the unchanging priesthood of Jesus Christ,” Cardinal Wuerl said, are configured to Christ as shepherd. “Ordination is intended not for the recipient — the priest — but for God’s people. The priest is servant because he has a sacred mission to fulfill. We must see priesthood as sacred service.”
The cardinal reflected on how the unchanged priesthood is lived out today in a dramatically changing world. “Your priesthood immerses you in the challenges that are a part of our culture today,” he said. “We face an age, a culture, a society, that finds so much of what we have to say alien, of little interest and not very convincing.” He continued, “Ours is a call to accompaniment. It is the careful, quiet, persistent, kind and caring pastoral ministry that leads to conversion and even to a desire to share the Good News with others.”
“Never forget this morning,” the cardinal urged the ordinandi as he concluded his homily. “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. Always be generous with your response to the needs of God’s people and the direction of your Bishop as you are this morning in your response to God’s call.”
After making a promise of obedience to Cardinal Wuerl and his successors, the three 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 as the Litany of Saints was sung. The litany invokes the intercession of apostles and martyrs from the early Church as well as holy women and men of recent times, including Saint John XXIII, Saint John Paul II, Saint Junípero Serra, and Saint Teresa of Calcutta, as well as the baptismal saints of each of the three men.
Then, in a gesture of apostolic origin, Cardinal Wuerl laid hands on each candidate’s head, the focal point of the ordination rite, and 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 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,’” said the cardinal.
The three 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 new priests joined their archbishop at the altar for the consecration. As the Mass concluded, the three new priests offered their first blessing to those at the Mass, and processed down the aisle to applause and cheers from a joyous crowd. 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.