Celebrating 50 years of Priesthood


This year was filled with personal milestones: the thirtieth anniversary of episcopal ordination and tenth anniversary as archbishop of Washington which came earlier this year. Today is the fiftieth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, which occurred at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where I studied as a seminarian.

What better way for a priest to celebrate an ordination than to offer a Mass of thanksgiving at his parish church with his parish family?  The priesthood unfolds day by day yet the primary thing that a priest does is celebrate Mass with his people.

As Archbishop of Washington, the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle is my special church, so tomorrow at the 11:30 a.m. Mass, in a quiet way without fanfare, I will do what every priest does – preach and celebrate the sacred mysteries – with that portion of the flock entrusted to my pastoral care.

When I reflect on these 50 years as a priest and think of my ordination, what comes to mind more than anything is a sense of gratitude to God for the call to priesthood and for the grace to pursue that call and persevere in it. The extraordinary joy of being ordained, being configured in a unique, sacramental way to Christ, is a gift for which I shall be ever thankful.

Every day I offer prayers of gratitude to God for the blessing of my vocation as a priest, for the opportunity to bring Christ to his people through the Gospel and the sacraments, and, at the same time, supporting and sharing in the good works of so many as they manifest Christ’s presence in our community. Of course, I offer prayers for all in this holy Church of Washington.  As we voice together the plea, “thy kingdom come” and share in Holy Communion, please keep me in your prayers and know that you remain in mine.