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Priesthood Ordination Homily

The following homily was given at the Mass for Priestly Ordination by the Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, at Saint Thomas More Cathedral on June 9, 2001. These men, your relatives and friends, are now to be raised to the order of priests. Consider carefully the position to which they are to be promoted in the Church. It is true that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind. He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God’s people. The first reading from the Book of Numbers foreshadowed this sharing by priests in the ministry of the bishops. Just as Moses needed others to share the privileged burden of pastoral care, so bishops need their brother-priests as principal co-workers in service to the People of God. This is true in every diocese, but it is especially true in this diocesan church where the growth of God’s people is so evident and so continuous. Our brothers, Richard Carr, Frederick Edlefsen, Stephen McGraw, Edwin Perez, James Poumade and James Tucker, have seriously considered this step and are now to be ordained to priesthood in the presbyteral order. They are to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd in his ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, grow into the People of God, a holy temple. They are called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be molded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest. By consecration they will be made true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people, and celebrate the liturgy, above all, the Lord’s sacrifice. My sons, Richard, Frederick, Stephen, Edwin, James and James, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. Share with all mankind the word of God you have received with joy. Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach. Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the People of God. Let the example of your lives attract the followers of Christ, so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God’s Church. In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ. When you baptize, you will bring men and women into the People of God. In the Sacrament of Penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the People of God but for the whole world. Remember that you are chosen from among God’s people and appointed to act for them in relation to God. Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love, and attend to the concerns of Christ before your own. Finally, conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family and to lead them effectively, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father. Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost. Yes, my brothers, your focus each day must be twofold: on Christ Jesus, in whose Person you teach, sanctify and serve and on the People of God to whom you are sent. Today’s Gospel recalls you to this twofold focus: to Jesus with whom you will be one in a unique way as you renew the Eucharistic Sacrifice — "Do this as a remembrance of me," and to the people as you go to them "as one who serves" and give them a "shepherd’s care." Permit me to conclude with the counsel our Holy Father gave to the 34 priests he ordained in Rome this past May 13: "It is up to you to guide the steps of the Christian people with generous dedication, specifically taking into account two important areas of pastoral commitment: ‘starting afresh from Christ’ (Novo Millennio Ineunte, nn 29-41) and being ‘witnesses to Love’ (Ibid, nn 42-57) . . . . Dear ordinands, in the awareness of your mission, strive for holiness and spread love. Be first and foremost ‘in love with the Church’, the Church on earth and that in heaven, looking to her with faith and love, despite the spots and wrinkles that can mark her human face. . . . Supported and encouraged by the communion of deep prayer, set out! Put out into the deep with courage, your sails filled with the breath of the Holy Spirit. In this way, you will rejoice for all that the Lord achieves through you (cf. Acts 14:27) and will experience even in the midst of trials and difficulties the greatness and joy of your mission. So be it" (L’Osservatore Romano, No. 20 — 16 May 2001, p2).

Copyright ?2001 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2001