Seven ordained to the priesthood

BOSTON— In a festive and dignified ceremony, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley added to the ranks of the archdiocese’s clergy by ordaining seven men to the priesthood May 24.

In his homily at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Cardinal O’Malley admonished the newly ordained saying that priests today must be teachers in an age of religious illiteracy and seek out those far away from the Church.

“Jesus Christ’s love for the sinner, for the little ones, is a clear sign of God’s love for us,” he told the priests and the congregation. “Our priests are ordained by the same spirit to continue that mission and to make the merciful face of Jesus present.”

Cardinal O’Malley told the new priests that they must become icons of God’s mercy, making present his infinite love to the world. The Holy Spirit gives priests the ability to heal the wounds of jealousy, anger, bitterness that “no physician has the power to heal,” he said. “Your joy will be to say over and over ‘Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven.’ There are no words more beautiful or more comforting.”

In today’s selfish and do-anything-to-get-ahead culture, it may seem easier to let people remain unbelievers, but they are hungering for answers and for meaning in their lives, the cardinal said. The Lord wants his priests to reach out to the widow, the orphan, the sinner, he said, because “whoever has discovered Jesus Christ from the inside and knows him firsthand sees that faith is not a burden and it is a joy.”

He told the seven new priests — Father Joseph Arsenault, Father Tamiru Atraga, Father Mark Barr, Father William Lohan, Father Arthur MacKay, Father Joseph Mazzone, and Father Paul Sullivan — that preaching God’s word is a crucial part of their mission as priests and encouraged them not to become discouraged if they see blank stares looking back at them from the pews.

“We never know how God’s word touches the hearts of our listeners,” he said noting that something heard in a homily could prompt reconciliation with family members, a call to the priesthood, or a complete conversion. “Someone may come away convinced that God loves them more than they ever imagined,” said the cardinal.

Following the homily, each candidate approached the cardinal seated before the altar and promised obedience to Cardinal O’Malley and his successors.

The Litany of the Saints was then sung by the choir and assembly, as the seven men lay prostrate in front of the altar as a sign of humility.

The cardinal then prayed silently over the ordinandi as he laid his hands upon their heads. All the priests in the assembly were then invited to do the same.

After the priests had finished and taken their place on the altar, Cardinal O’Malley recited the Prayer of Consecration which recalls the history of the priestly role throughout the Biblical times, and asked God to “grant them the dignity of the priesthood” and the candidates became priests.

As part of the ceremony, the newly ordained priests were then presented with a series of significant items — each priest was vested with a stole and chasuble — the signs of the office of priesthood.

Each of the newly ordained priests’ hands were then anointed with the oil of chrism, as the cardinal prayed, “The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, guard and preserve you, that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God.”

They were also presented with the paten and chalice — signs of the gifts of the people — as Cardinal O’Malley exhorted them to “understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”

Newly ordained priest Father Joseph Mazzone, who will serve at Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth, certainly felt God’s love following his ordination. “My heart is bursting with joy,” he said. “The cardinal’s homily was very inspirational. He is such a high model of the priesthood and he radiates to others the love of God in a world where we often forget to love.”

Father Mazzone spent the past year stationed at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Winthrop, where he exhibited an ability to respond to the cardinal’s call to reach out to members of the parish and beyond. “He was a wonderful deacon and he will make an excellent priest,” said Sister Jane Iannaccone, SP. “He is very pastoral and caring and he is able to relate to all age groups, young and old.”

If Father Paul Sullivan ever needs advice about relating to his new congregation, he has plenty of people to turn to. His uncle, Father Lawrence Sullivan, is a senior priest of the archdiocese living in Peabody and his brother, Father John Sullivan, is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Melrose.

“It is fantastic to share the mystery of the priesthood with my brother. Now we are double brothers because we are brothers by blood and brothers by the Spirit,” said Father John Sullivan. “It has been a call that my brother Paul has heard for a while and it is great to see it come to fruition.”

Reports by Donis Tracy contributed to this story.