This year’s priestly ordination ceremony had to be one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the church calendar. It’s not often that a diocese can boast about ordaining more priests for a single year than any other diocese or archdiocese in the country. But that was the case in Brooklyn this year.
Thirteen men were called forward last weekend for Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to lay hands upon, signifying their ordinations to the priesthood to serve the Church in Brooklyn and Queens.
St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral hosted its first-ever ordinations. More than 1,500 people comprised the standing-room-only congregation. Some in the back of the church did not have a great seat for viewing, so they used their mobile devices to log on to NET-TV, making it the most popular hit on the NET website last weekend.
Five bishops and about 200 priests were present for the celebration of priesthood. No one left early despite the more than two-hour liturgy. Following the Mass, the church remained full as the newly ordained came back to bestow their first blessings on family and friends.
After five years of post-graduate theological studies and pastoral ministry, these men are ready to serve. Bishop DiMarzio wasted no time in handing out assignments to the men. They ranged from Bay Ridge to Floral Park, with only one returning to Rome for further studies.
Bishop DiMarzio said that this class represented a landmark group. Most of them were sons of immigrants and represent a moment when the newest immigrants to the diocese are making their mark on the diocesan clergy. Of the 13 new priests, five were foreign born. Two were born in Poland, two in Haiti and one in Italy. Three are from Brooklyn, two from Queens, one from Manhattan and one from Philadelphia. Those born in the U.S. came from parents born in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti. Each and every one of them found his way to Holy Orders through unique paths, as we documented last week on these pages.
While the diocese has done a great job recruiting and educating these men, the bishop warned that it cannot rest on its laurels. Some of the seminary classes in preparation contain single digit totals. In response, the bishop has set up a new structure for inviting men to consider priesthood as a vocation.
There’s a lot of work to be done in the Church. Brooklyn and Queens are unique because of the many different ethnic groups that make up our diocese of immigrants. But the challenges are basically the same.
A recent synod document compiled by the Vatican made note that many people of faith around the world are hurting. They need to hear the consoling word of Jesus and his Church. They are hurting physically, spiritually, economically and emotionally. The Church has something to offer, but its message is getting drowned out. It will only be heard through the example of fervent believers who put their lives on the line in defense of the Truth. Our priests are on the frontline of that charge.
We have seen the disaster that occurs when priests give bad example. The Church demands more from its clergy because it looks to these men for guidance and support.
If they do their ministries properly, they will know many good days along with the tough ones as they walk alongside their parishioners. May they minister long and well among us.