My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Our priesthood Ordinations this year have been blessed with 10 men, seven of whom were born in the United States and three who have come to us from other countries, one of whom came to our Diocese when he was seven years old. Truly, we are blessed to have representations from all of the major ethnic groups which make up this great and complex diocese here in Brooklyn and Queens. We are also blessed to have these men who pledge to follow their vocation to the priesthood.
It has been my custom to preach a day of recollection the day prior to Ordination. In order to prepare for this day of prayer, I ask each man to present to me a short paper on their concept of the priesthood and what they wish to accomplish as priests. I recently read and re-read these papers in preparation for the day of recollection and wish to share with you some of their thoughts on the priesthood and how they wish to serve you, the people of God, in this diocese.
Certainly, they see the priest as a father. One quotes our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who recently said that he wished to see his priests exhausted from work on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Exhausted fathers are those who work for their family and for them alone. Hopefully, these young men will give themselves completely to the service of God’s Kingdom and His people. Another made the point that the priestly garment of Christ is one that entails work and sacrifice, not merely a decoration. For the garments of Christ were taken from Him on the cross and used for sport by the soldiers. The sport of the priesthood is to win souls for Christ.
Another spoke about acting in the person of Christ as good theology teaches us today. Yet, working in the person of Christ entails a life of sacrifice identifying with Him who gave His life for us.
Another wanted to imitate Christ who is the head of the Church in the humility that Christ exercised. Still another who came to the priesthood through much personal sacrifice wishes to better understand Christ as the man who sacrificed all for our salvation.
Yet another saw Christ as the human sacrifice that gained our salvation and he too wanted to follow a life of sacrifice for God’s people. While another saw Christ as the great bridge builder between God and man which is the example he wished to follow in the exercise of his priesthood.
Another saw the New Evangelization as the driving force in what he wished to do as a priest, catechizing those who did not know their faith. While another saw again the sacrifice of Christ as a mode for his own life, sacrificing his own desires for the good of Christ’s people. And another understood that feeling of a devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, would enable him to exercise the priesthood of Christ which came to fruition at Mary’s complete willingness to accept God’s will in her life.
These thoughts truly are inspiring, especially the emphasis by almost all that they saw the priesthood as a life of sacrificial dedication in a world that, unfortunately, was opposed to Christ and the work of His Church.
It is important that we continue to foster good priestly vocations for men who are truly dedicated to Christ and expanding the Kingdom of God in this world. Fostering vocations is the work of all Catholics, as we must pray for vocations, as we form vocation committees in our parishes, as we now extend Project Andrew as the meeting of young men, with me and my Auxiliary Bishops in various parishes in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.
As I travel throughout the Diocese, everyone asks for priests; a priest who speaks their language, a priest who understands their customs, a priest that is young and vibrant, a priest who will take care of the poor.
There is no lack of respect and desire for the priestly ministry. All we lack, however, are the priests themselves. Only God can give us the priests we need. Join me as we put out into the deep mystery of supporting vocations with our own prayer and sacrifice.