Today I had the rare privilege to witness six stellar young men be sealed with the grace of the Holy Spirit and receive an indelible mark upon their souls as they were ordained to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. It was a magnificent ordination Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Bishop Donald Hying, Bishop Emeritus Richard Sklba, as well as dozens of diocesan and ordered priests. The Cathedral was packed to standing room capacity for the nearly three-hour outpouring of God’s Divine Grace.
Hearts swelled as the choir and congregation sang out: “O God, Beyond All Praising,” for the Entrance Procession. Sacred Scripture was proclaimed in both English and Spanish. The six young men, whose ordination to the transitional diaconate we witnessed only 12 short months ago, were called forth and stood before Archbishop Listecki, as the beautiful ritual began. Archbishop Listecki reminded the deacons and the congregation of the arduous hours each of these candidates had labored in preparation for this prodigious moment. As I reflected on Archbishop Listecki’s homily, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort knowing that the future of Catholicism rests in hands as capable as those of these fine young men.
As the ritual progressed, the white alb-clad candidates were questioned by Archbishop Listecki, and pledged their obedience to him and his successors. Each man then lay prostrate, his face to the marble floor, while the Litany of Supplication was chanted by the entire congregation. This beautiful ancient prayer unites the entire assembly in prayer with the Communion of Saints, storming Heaven in supplication for the requisite graces these young men need for the fulfillment of their chosen vocation.
Later, as the candidates knelt before the Archbishop, he placed his hands upon each of them in silent prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to fill each of them with wisdom and grace. Bishops Hying and Sklba also laid their hands upon each candidate in prayer, and then each concelebrating priest did likewise. Year to year, I love this moment! The unity in the brotherhood of priests is visible. As each priest prays over his brother priest there is a sense of mystery and awe: an unbroken line of grace, being transmitted through mere human instruments, inspiring those receiving it to fulfill their role in Persona Christi with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Veni Creator Spiritus! With his hands extended over the candidates, Archbishop Listecki then prayed the Prayer of Ordination. Each newly ordained priest was then vested in his stole and chasuble (the symbols of his office) by a priest of his choosing. As the ritual continued to unfold, Archbishop Listecki anointed the palms of the newly ordained priests with Holy Chrism. Bread and wine were then presented to each newly ordained priest by the Archbishop to signify the role in presiding at the Holy Eucharist. As the rite of Ordination drew to completion, the Archbishop and fellow Bishops individually greeted the newly ordained priests with a fraternal embrace.
My tears flowed as the mothers of the newly ordained priests brought the gifts of bread and wine to their sons, and the Archbishop. These mothers here embraced the sons whom they had once nourished as children, who in turn would now nourish them with the Body and Blood of Christ. The Consecration was magnificent. I can only imagine the joy these newly ordained priests and their families felt.
After the final blessing and procession, there was time for photos and hugs. Through the years, our family has grown very fond of one of the newly ordained priests. From a distance, we watched our friend Ryan cope with the rigorous academic challenges of seminary life. We were present last year in this same cathedral as he was ordained to the transitional diaconate in preparation for this monumental day. Over the past few weeks we have seen his vestments and chalice present in the sanctuary of St. Peter Church – waiting as if nearly ready for their new owner to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. Now we witnessed this amazing young man complete his path to ordination, and take his first steps in Persona Christi. Wow!
There is a tradition that the blessing of a new priest is abundantly fruitful. As our family knelt in blessing before our friend Fr. Ryan, I felt a sense of awe and gratitude. Who can know the Mind of God? It is incomprehensible how Our Lord should call a unique group of chosen men to stand in His place on Earth, and communicate His love sacramentally. The mystery is so profound that the human mind cannot fathom its depths. Likewise, it is a mystery how mere men can have the fortitude to respond to God’s call to sacrifice all to become fishers of men. As our Lord Himself said: “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19: 26).” I am immensely grateful to both God and these men for allowing His Holy Spirit to turn possibility into reality.
On this day, in response to such a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is fitting to continue our novena in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost. As we continue this novena, please pray in a special way for these newly ordained priests:
Rev. Yamid Jose Blanco Ariza Rev. Juan Manuel Camacho Porras
Rev. Brad Alan Krawszyk Rev. Ryan Joseph Pruess
Rev. Jacob Alexander Strand Rev. Carlos Alberto Zapata Munoz
This novena to the Holy Spirit is currently prayed each day after Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill.
Each day the Preparatory prayer is:
O Holy Spirit, Divine Consoler!
I adore You as my Triune God.
I bless You by uniting myself to the praises You receive from the angels and saints.
I offer You my whole heart, and I render You heartfelt thanks for all the benefits You have bestowed and unceasingly bestow upon the world. You are the author of all supernatural gifts and Who did enrich with immense favors the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, I beseech You to visit me by Your Grace and Your Love, and grant me the favor I so earnestly seek in this novena. . . .(state your request here). O Holy Spirit, Spirit of all Truth, come into our hearts: shed the brightness of your light on all nations, that they may be of one faith and pleasing to You. Amen.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your Love.
(Recite the prayer of the appropriate day)
O Holy Spirit, make me faithful in every thought, grant that I may always listen to your voice, and watch for Your Light, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to You, and give myself to you, and ask You by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus, looking at His five wounds, trusting in His Precious Blood, adoring His open side and stricken Heart, I implore You adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace, now and always, grant us the favor we ask in this novena. . . (state your request here). . .Amen.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love.
May the Holy Spirit give you His peace!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,