Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Last Saturday morning at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, in the presence of a standing room only crowd of faithful, five young men were ordained for the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. Four men – William Arnold, Andrew Infanger, Aaron Laskiewicz and John LoCoco – were ordained as priests for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The fifth, Vincent Nghiep Van Pham, is a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, headquartered in Hue City, Vietnam. It is always a privilege to be present at an ordination ceremony. The tradition of the priesthood continues in service to the people of God in persona Christi.
As the ordaining bishop, I received their statements of intention and their promises of obedience. It’s not easy in our modern times to pledge obedience to the bishop before them, and the unknown entities that may follow. One must trust in God’s providence that brought them to this moment – that whatever will be required from them in the future will be for the good of the Church they pledge to serve.
The actual ordination occurs with the laying on of hands. All other bishops and priests who are present are invited to share in the gesture, and as they approach, I’m sure memories of their own ordination occupied their thoughts. It was with that simple sign that the beginning of their adventure began. It would take them to parish communities, classrooms and hospitals, where they would preach, teach, baptize and heal the wounds of separation. They will wonder why they said what they said, when they said it, and realize that the Holy Spirit was moving within them.
The hands of the newly ordained were anointed, and as I placed the oils on their palms, I realized that recently I had anointed the opposite side of their brother priests’ hands, who were receiving the sacrament of the sick (because a priest’s palms are anointed for the celebration of the Eucharist, and his hands are anointed on the opposite side when administering the sacrament of the sick). These men, who received the sacrament of the sick, would soon be standing before Jesus, the High Priest, for an accounting of the use of their priestly gifts, and thanking Him for the privilege of serving His Church in persona Christi.
Parents and family members of the newly ordained brought forth the gifts to be used in the celebration of the Eucharist. This is such an emotional moment. I personally thanked the parents for the gift of their sons to the Church. Kisses, tears of joy and hugs affirmed that these were true gifts of love to the Church. They kissed the hands of their newly ordained sons, who would soon be offering the Lord’s sacrifice.
These newly ordained will now take their places among the priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Next year, they will be among the priest concelebrants, viewing the ordination rites of the new class of priests, and remembering this day. But today, they represent the hope, the future and the joy of a Church renewed in the commitment of these young men who seek to follow Christ’s command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the May 22, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.