Newly ordained priests celebrate Mass at Regina Cleri

BOSTON -- "It's nice to see all the young faces," 93-year-old Father Paul McPartland told the Archdiocese of Boston Ordination Class of 2024 when they came to visit him in his room at Regina Cleri. "I have to look in the mirror to see a young face."

On May 28, Boston's 11 newest priests, who were ordained three days prior, visited their spiritual forebears at Regina Cleri. They joined retired priests at a Mass celebrated in the Regina Cleri chapel by one of their own, newly-ordained Father Christopher Letizia.

"It was like coming full-circle," newly-ordained Father Gabriel Hanley told The Pilot.

When he was a young man, Father Hanley came to Regina Cleri to visit his friend, Father Felipe Gonzalez, who was staying there while he recovered from an injury. Father Hanley attended a Mass celebrated by Father Gonzalez at Regina Cleri, in which Father Gonzalez delivered a homily about how God was calling men to the priesthood. Later, Father Gonzalez told Father Hanley that God was calling him to be a priest, too.

"And now I see that God calls me back to confirm the word that I received," Father Hanley said. "Nothing escapes the providence of God, and I'm very happy to know that I'm where God wants me to be."

When Father McPartland first saw Father Hanley, he joked to the younger priest: "You're as tall as God."

"It definitely brings about a sense of gratitude," Father Hanley said. "It's incredible to see. I guess the best way to describe it is like the relationship with Elijah and Elisha, where Elijah leaves the mantle for Elisha to continue the work that he leaves behind."

Before Mass, Father Letizia told the assembly that celebrating the Eucharist at Regina Cleri was "an honor and a privilege."

"We're also fully willing to admit that we know nothing and that you've seen everything," he said to the retired priests, "so please continue to pray for us."

Father John Tanyi, another newly-ordained priest, was the homilist.

"You gave up the exciting times of the '50s and '60s to follow Christ," he told the retired priests, "and you have been rewarded a hundred times more by a gift par excellence: The gift of the priesthood."

He said that the retired priests "were configured to Christ in a special and unique way" when they were ordained.

"On the day of your ordinations," he said, "an indelible spiritual character was imprinted on your souls, and that is permanent. You gave up everything and followed Jesus."

Father Tanyi said that none of the priests chose the priesthood, but were given the honor by Christ. To respond to that call, they had to sacrifice the possibility of marriage, family, and worldly careers.

"Dear fathers," he said, "continue to hold our hands. As Father Chris said, continue to pray for us, continue to teach us. We are becoming priests at difficult times, perhaps more difficult than when you became priests. A time of excruciating secularization. Do not stop teaching us. You are priests forever."

After Mass, the newly ordained priests gave blessings and visited priests who could not physically join them in the chapel.

"Thank you, God," Father McPartland said to the new priests. "Congratulations to all of you, and I hope you have a long life."

"We'll be thinking of you," newly-ordained Father Barry Mongeon told Father McPartland.

Father McPartland, who was ordained in 1957, told The Pilot that he was "happy as a lark" to see a new generation of priests.

"They'll have plenty of work to do," he said, "but they're all good people and well-trained."