This past Saturday two men of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis were ordained to the priesthood. We are blessed by José Neri and Jack Wright’s commitment to our Lord through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The liturgy celebrating the Conferral of Holy Orders was a rich celebration. I’d like to share some of it with you. Attending increased my appreciation for our priests and the gift of the Eucharist that they celebrate for us.
The chosen readings for the liturgy included Jeremiah 1:4-9, Psalm 117, 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-7, and John 12:24-26. (Look them up and spend some time reflecting on them this week.) The First Reading from Jeremiah includes a familiar verse, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…” Jeremiah goes on to tell the Lord he is too young. But God reminds him that He will deliver Jeremiah. Just as God blessed Jeremiah, He blessed José and Jack through their discernment process leading them to their ordination, and He will continue to bless them in their ministry. In response, we sang Psalm 117, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.” Isn’t that precisely what our priests do, proclaim the Good News? Then in the Second Reading, St. Paul reminded us, “we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.” José and Jack preach the Good News of Jesus our Lord, not only by their yes to the call but also in their role as spiritual fathers and administering the sacraments. The Gospel reading was another familiar text, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.” José and Jack died to themselves in their ordinations for the sake of the Kingdom, for us, and for all the faithful of the Archdiocese.
The rituals for the conferral of the sacrament followed the Liturgy of the Word in which their love for the Lord was palpable. First José and Jack were called forward and Archbishop Thompson asked if they were worthy. Those responsible for them agreed and Archbishop affirmed their election praying, “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood.” Following the homily, José and Jack promised their intention to undertake the office of the priesthood. With the help of the Holy Spirit, they resolved to care for the Lord’s flock through preaching the Gospel, teaching the faith, praying unceasingly, and offering themselves as a sacrifice for the salvation of all. They also promised obedience to the Archbishop and his successors. Even in the back of the cathedral, I could hear their “I do’s” loud and clear.
Then it was our turn to pray for them in the Litany of Supplication. While on our knees, you could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence as they prostrated themselves. Following, the Archbishop and all priests present continued to offer prayers for José and Jack during the Laying on of Hands signifying their incorporation into the presbyterate. Then the Archbishop prayed the Prayer of Ordination, and they received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. As new priests, José and Jack immediately put on the priestly stole and chasuble. Then the Archbishop anointed their hands with chrism as he prayed, “The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, guard and preserve you, that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God.” Next, the bread and wine were handed over to José and Jack, showing their duty of celebrating the Eucharist and following Christ. Finally, they were sealed with the Fraternal Kiss from Archbishop and all priests present welcomed them into the ministry. José and Jack then concelebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Mass concluded with a solemn blessing for José and Jack that with God’s grace they may fulfill the duties of the priesthood as servants of Christ and shepherds of His people.
This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. In reflecting on my experience of José and Jack’s ordination, I am more appreciative of the gift of the Eucharist through the priests who confer it for us. Their sacrifice is united with Christ and offered for us. Through the Holy Spirit, they make Jesus present to us, and we are able to receive Him, to be intimately united to Him. What a gift! A gift that we would not have if it were not for their “Yes” to the Lord. Today and always, I am grateful for the gift of priests. Join me in praying for them. Next weekend, we will be blessed by Fr. José as he celebrates mass for us. Let’s welcome him back to our Holy Family family.
Director of Discipleship & Catechesis