Cardinal ordains seven priests for Boston

BOSTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley ordained seven men to the priesthood on May 21, urging them to be "living icons of the Good Shepherd."

After having much smaller attendance at the Rite of Ordination for the past two years due to pandemic restrictions, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross was once again packed with friends, families, and former parishioners of the candidates for the Mass.

The men ordained were Fathers Maxwell Chukwudiebere, Joseph Ferme IV, Patrick O'Connor, Bertrand Proulx, Steven Restrepo, Nathaniel Sanders, and Nicholas Stano.

After the Liturgy of the Word, the rite of ordination began with Cardinal O'Malley calling the candidates by name. They each stood and said "present," indicating their readiness to enter the priesthood. With the consent of those present, the cardinal elected them for ordination.

Cardinal O'Malley began his homily by greeting the ordinands' families and thanking all those who supported them in their vocations. He acknowledged Deacon Maxwell's family in Nigeria watching the Mass via CatholicTV, and he addressed Deacon Restrepo's family in Spanish.

The cardinal pointed out that it was the feast day of St. Christopher Magallanes and 21 diocesan priests who were martyred in Mexico in 1927.

"What a great day to be ordaining a group of diocesan priests. May you find inspiration in the heroic lives of these parish priests whose love for Christ and their vocation made them ready to sacrifice their lives in the service of God's people," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He also talked about the journalist Graham Greene, who reported on Christian persecution in Mexico and wrote about it in the novel "The Power and the Glory."

Cardinal O'Malley pointed out that the priest in the novel is never named.

"My interpretation of the author's decision not to give the priest a name is he's trying to show us that every Catholic priest has to renounce something of his own identity to take on the role to be an icon of the Good Shepherd, to be a father," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He drew lessons about ministry from the readings in the liturgy, which included what he called "the Last Breakfast," when the risen Jesus cooks fish for the apostles, asks Peter whether he loves him, and tells Peter to feed his sheep. This encounter parallels Peter's calling at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, with a miraculous catch of fish and Jesus' call to "Follow me."

"You men are being called to an adventure not of your own making. You must trust Jesus," Cardinal O'Malley told the ordinands.

He also emphasized the centrality of prayer and love in their ministry.

"A vocation is a call to love the Lord and to love and feed his people. The fact that the question 'Do you love me' is repeated three times is really significant. There are a lot of other qualifications that are important for ministry, but nothing is as important as love," the cardinal said.

He said that vocations have "huge implications for the larger community."

"Vocations are everybody's business. We all have a stake in promoting vocations to the priesthood and ministry because we are a eucharistic people, and this is the way that the Good Shepherd has chosen to feed us the Word of God and the Bread of Life," he said.

The rite of ordination continued following the homily. Each of the ordinands promised obedience and respect to the cardinal and his successors. Then, they lay prostrate on the floor in front of the altar while the assembly offered the Litany of Supplication.

Cardinal O'Malley laid his hands on each of the elect, a gesture that has its roots in the New Testament as a sign of ordination and invoking the Holy Spirit. The many priests present also joined in this gesture, and later in the ceremony, they lined up to greet each of the new priests.

Following the prayer of consecration, the new priests were vested with stoles and chasubles, signs of the office of the priesthood. Their hands were anointed with the oil of chrism, and each symbolically received a paten and chalice.

After the ordination rite, the new priests joined the cardinal on the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist, participating in the sacrament as priests for the first time.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Cardinal O'Malley knelt to receive a blessing from each of the newly ordained priests. The faithful expressed their congratulations with applause.

One of those who attended to support Father O'Connor was Jennelle Barosin, who knew him from their days as resident advisors at Loyola University. Speaking to The Pilot after the ceremony, Barosin, who is Jewish, said that although this was not the first Mass she attended, it was her first time seeing someone ordained, which was "very, very special."

She said she cried when she saw Father O'Connor in the recessional.

"I've known him for years now, and it's very exciting to see him grow into who he was meant to be. It's really beautiful to see someone grow in their faith that way," she said.