Seven ordained to the priesthood

The ordination Mass of Fathers Matthew Westcott, Charles Madi Okin, Daniel Kennedy, Martin Dzengeleski, Andreas Davison, Christopher Casey and Robert Blaney was celebrated May 26 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot file photo/Gregory L. Tracy

SOUTH END -- After years of prayers, study and discernment, seven men pledged themselves to the service of God and His Church at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 26.

In front of a packed cathedral, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley ordained Fathers Robert Blaney, Andreas Davison, Martin Dzengeleski, Daniel Kennedy, Madi Okin and Matthew Westcott from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and Father Chirstopher Casey from Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston.

During his homily, the cardinal spoke of the importance of knowing God’s love.

“It’s a great tragedy going through our lives not knowing how much our parents love us, but it’s an even greater tragedy not knowing, not feeling, not suspecting how much God loves us,” he said.

“These seven men have discovered God’s love,” added Cardinal O’Malley.

“Today we are witnessing these seven men who have left everything” to follow God’s call, he continued. “We hope they discover...that Jesus is worth it.”

“Ordination is not about cautiously wetting one’s toes, it’s about diving in with Jesus as St. Peter did in the Gospels,” the cardinal told the ordinandi. “We hope that you are diving in with the abandonment that Peter had.”

Cardinal O’Malley also stressed the importance of the Eucharist in the life of a priest.

“For a priest, the Eucharist is that special contact with our Lord,” he said. “When you say ‘Take and eat’ you will be feeding the flock of our Lord.”

Addressing the entire congregation, Cardinal O’Malley said, “Today the Lord is asking these seven men if they love Him enough to follow Him -- not to follow behind but to take up the cross. We too must rest on Jesus’ heart.”

Addressing the men, he said, “Priests have a special role in building up community,” he continued. “Many forces pull us apart, but your ministry as priests is about gathering the scattered.”

“Today you are telling Jesus that you love Him and He is telling you to feed His sheep,” he said.

“The people want to see Jesus. They need to see Jesus,” he stressed. “In your purity...in your prayerfulness...in your simplicity of life,” you can show the world who is Jesus.

“Follow Him, not at a safe distance, but with the Lord. Know that you are not alone.”

Cardinal O’Malley concluded his homily commending and consecrating the ordinandi to the Virgin Mary.

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.”

The cardinal recited the prayer in German for German-born Father Davison; for Father Okin, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the cardinal spoke in French.

After the ordination rite the newly ordained took their places behind the altar to concelebrate the Mass for the first time.

Prior to delivering the final blessing, Cardinal O’Malley praised the new priests and their families. He also urged everyone in the assembly to “work very hard to promote vocations in our communities.”

Following the ceremony, family, friends and well-wishers gathered to congratulate and receive blessings from the new priests. Members of the Congolese Catholic community approached Father Okin singing a Congolese song of thanksgiving.

“The celebration is just so moving,” declared Lois Westcott, the mother of Father Westcott, who watched with pride as her son prayed over family members and friends.

“We’re just jubilant, as is the whole Church” echoed Alice Kennedy, the mother of the Father Kennedy.

“We’re thankful and grateful that God asked our son to serve His people, and we are grateful that our son said yes to His call,” added Daniel Kennedy Sr. “It is such a blessing for the archdiocese to have seven great men ordained to the priesthood today.”

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