The Ordination of Our Newest Priests
One of the most joyful days of the year for our family of faith will unfold tomorrow at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as I ordain four new priests to serve Christ, his Church, and all they encounter.
Three of these soon-to-be new priests are pioneer members of our Saint John Paul II Seminary. They entered when it opened in 2011 and are now its first seminarians to be ordained as priests. They include Ben Garcia, a native of Chile who studied at the naval academy and with a religious community there; Bob Kilner, who grew up as a member of the Shrine of Saint Jude Parish in Rockville and graduated from Catholic University; and Andrew Wakefield, a native of Michigan who earned a law degree and was previously a practicing attorney. Our fourth candidate, Jorge Ubau is a native of El Salvador and an active member of the Neocatechumenal Way who studied at our archdiocesan Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary.
This ordination Mass comes during the 25th anniversary year of Saint John Paul’s landmark apostolic exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, which lists the four basic building blocks that guide the formation of our seminarians and the ongoing formation of our priests in its human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral aspects. These pillars form a way of life for seminarians and priests as they seek Christ and help others know and love him, and journey with people on the path to heaven.
Furthermore, like his predecessors, Pope Francis as a priest and shepherd exemplifies these pillars and he too offers key characteristics for priests as they seek to manifest the ministry of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He encourages priests to have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus; to be devoted to the sacramental ministry and a daily rhythm of life that includes time for prayer and ongoing spiritual growth; to remain close to their flock and accompanying them where they are; to be ministers of God’s love and mercy; and to live lives marked by service and humility.
The movement of the Spirit that leads our priests on the path to ordination also continues to guide them as they stand in the midst of the faith community as an icon of Christ. The priest proclaims God’s word in living continuity with the apostolic tradition. He celebrates the sacred mysteries, especially the sacrament of Reconciliation and above all, the Eucharist. He shows a loving concern for those in need and gathers the flock into one and leads these people to the Father.
Please join me and the whole Church of Washington in praying that the Holy Spirit fill the hearts and lives of our newly-ordained priests and those already serving as they continue their formation as good and holy priests, and accompany too the flocks entrusted to them in our pilgrim journey to Jesus and eternal life.