SOUTH END -- ‘‘The priest’s deepest identity is that of Christ,” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley in his homily at the transitional diaconate ordination of six men on Feb. 2.
Deacons Tamiru Atraga, Mark Barr and William Lohan from St. John’s Seminary and Deacons Arthur MacKay, Joseph Mazzone and Paul Sullivan from Blessed John XXIII National Seminary were ordained at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. A seventh man, Deacon Joseph Arsenault will join the men for their ordination to the priesthood in May. He was ordained a permanent deacon in 1988 and is studying at Blessed John Seminary.
In the week leading up to the ordination, two priests in the Archdiocese of Boston -- Fathers J. Walter Stocklosa and Daniel Kennedy -- passed away. The cardinal spoke of their passing and the hope represented by the men preparing for priesthood.
Cardinal O’Malley said he was reminded of the book “The Power and the Glory” by British author Graham Greene. At the end of the novel, the last priest in a province of Mexico has been executed, and Catholics in a nearby house are mourning the loss when there is a knock on the door. Outside was another priest who came to serve God’s people.
“This week in our diocese we buried Father Walter, the priest who has been ordained the longest -- 1940, and Father Dan yesterday, another priest who has been ordained the shortest time,” he said. “Yet today we are filled with hope as the Lord sends us new ministers in his Church.”
The newly-ordained men spoke of Father Kennedy, ordained last year, who died suddenly of a heart attack on Jan. 27.
Deacon Mazzone served with Father Kennedy in Winthrop and said of him, “I could not have asked for a better role model.”
Deacon Sullivan said that the next class of priests must continue the mission of Christ.
“We’re stepping forward,” he said.
The ordination, held on the Presentation of the Lord or Candlemas, began with the blessing of candles that were lit and carried into the cathedral by the seminarians. The procession represents the entry of Christ, the light of the world, into the Temple of Jerusalem.
Speaking in his homily of the Gospel reading about the presentation, Cardinal O’Malley said the passage describes two senior citizens -- Simeon and Anna -- who were waiting and longing for the coming of the Lord in the temple.
“I’ve always liked today’s Gospel for many reasons, but in part because it reminds me of daily Mass crowds in our parishes -- there’s often a lot of gray hair,” he said. “In the joy and sacrifice of Simeon and Anna, we see in old age the expectation of the great encounter for which life prepares us.”
Cardinal O’Malley spoke to the ordinands, telling them that their ordination is their presentation in the temple. He exhorted them to make gifts of themselves, love the Eucharist and teach God’s truths.