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Bishop Burbidge ordains four men to the priesthood

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge ordained four men to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington June 8 — Nicholas F. Blank, Edouard B. Guilloux, Sean T. Koehr and Christopher W. Nyce. The cathedral was filled with the men’s family and friends and more than 100 priests who came to celebrate the happy occasion. “This is a day of great rejoicing for our diocese and, indeed, the entire church,” said Bishop Burbidge.

 

Newly ordained Father Blank will be parochial vicar of the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria; Father Guilloux will be parochial vicar of All Saints Church in Manassas; Father Koehr will be parochial vicar of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg; and Father Nyce will be parochial vicar of St. Philip Church in Falls Church.

 

During his homily, Bishop Burbidge said that though the church is facing great difficulties, he has been reminded by the faithful that the church belongs to the Lord.

 

“At this time of year in our diocese and in other dioceses, some priests are transferred, which I always say is a lesson in humility and reality. I think of my own transfers throughout my priesthood. From all of them, I heard a consistent statement. Parishioners would say, ‘Father, we are so sorry that you are leaving’ — and in the very same sentence — ‘and who’s taking your place?’ ”

 

“Actually, when you think about it, that is a great act of faith,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Recognizing that no parish, no diocese depends on one certain priest or bishop. The care of the parish, the care of the diocese is only entrusted to us for a privileged season, but it’s always the Lord’s, the One who speaks to you today, dear candidates, through the prophet Jeremiah and says, “Have no fear because I am with you to deliver you.’ ”

 

During the ordination, one by one, the men knelt before Bishop Burbidge, as he laid his hands on their heads. He then recited the prayer of ordination, making each man a grateful priest. Following the prayer, the new priests were vested with a stole and chasuble by a close priest friend.

 

Father Blank was vested by Father Matthew Rensch, a fellow Christendom graduate who serves in the Diocese of Burlington, Vt. Father Guilloux was vested by Father Brian G. Bashista, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Lake Ridge and former vocations director. Father Nyce was vested by Father William P. Saunders, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls and episcopal vicar for faith formation.

 

Father Koehr was vested by Father James R. Searby, chaplain at George Mason University in Fairfax. The two men met when Father Koehr was a senior in high school. “He’s become an incredible friend,” said Father Searby. “To go from being a son to a friend to a brother is incomparable. It’s absolutely amazing to know that we’re now both priests forever.”

 

The vesting also was a poignant moment for Jean-Marc Guilloux, the father of Father Guilloux. “You see him as a priest (for the first time.) Though its only one small part of the ceremony, you can visualize (the reality),” he said. 

As with the other parents of the newly ordained, Guilloux was grateful to witness this moment in the life of his son, and in the life of the diocese. “When he was 4, he said he wanted to be a priest the same way that people say they want to be an astronaut. But it was significant to us that he would say that,” said Guilloux. “We’ve been in this diocese for 20 years. A big reason for moving to Stafford was the diocese. The priests have been role models for him.”

 

Bishop Burbidge then anointed the men’s palms with holy chrism. The priests each washed their hands with a manitergium, a cloth traditionally presented as a gift to the priest’s mother after the Mass. Family members of the newly ordained brought up the bread and wine, which Bishop Burbidge placed in the priests’ hands. 

 

“Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross,” he told them. Then Bishop Burbidge and the dozens of priests present embraced the new priests, saying, “Peace be with you.”

 

At the closing procession, the men walked down the aisle to exuberant applause from the audience. After Mass, they blessed their parents, friends and family at a reception in Burke Hall.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

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