Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
For most of us, the month of May holds many memories. In this month, we have experienced the May Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother’s Day, First Holy Communions – and for most priests, the anniversary of their ordination.
My own ordination to the priesthood took place on May 14, 1975, at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. It is a shock for me to realize that I am now in the 45th year of my priesthood. I remember thinking that the guys celebrating their 25th-year were really old. I feel like many of my friends who have celebrated their years in married life, now wondering where all of the years have gone. It seems like yesterday when I was imagining what the priesthood would hold. Now, I have over 40 years of a life journey that I could have never envisioned.
I have met saints, popes, future saints, celebrities and leaders of our country. I have been a part of various communities, and many have accepted me as a friend or almost a family member. I know that many professions could claim the same, but I doubt whether many would have the same level of intimacy. The ordination to the priesthood was, for me and my 37 classmates from the Archdiocese of Chicago, the culmination of 12 years of study, formation and prayer. There is an established bond with them and all who are ordained to the priesthood. To a lesser extent, it was similar to my experience in the Army; you share something that others may never possess.
I would usually plan a get-together with a couple of my classmates, but this year will be different. The pandemic will rob me of that celebration, but it will not rob me of my gratefulness to the Church for all that she has provided in my 45 years.
On May 16, I will ordain four men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist: Carlos Londono, Patrick Magnor, Edward Sanchez and Justin Weber. Their lives will forever change. In one sense, they will be the same individuals we have come to know. However, the Sacrament of Priestly Ordination will change them in their ability to offer themselves through the sacraments to bring a source of grace and strength into the lives of the people they serve.
They have been transitional deacons for the last year, but always with an eye to that moment when they can join themselves to the ranks of the priesthood who have served and inspired them. I know these men, and they will be great additions to the proud tradition of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. As I impose my hands upon them, I am sure that they will be imagining what God will have in store for them. However, we all know that we must open ourselves to being His instruments as He writes His love in the hearts of the people we serve.
At an anniversary, many couples will be asked, if they had to do it all over again, would they? On the anniversary of my priestly ordination, I can offer my voice that, without a doubt, I would. Thanking God always for the bishops, priests, religious, deacons, family and friends that have been a gift to my priesthood, and who made it very easy to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the May 12, 2020, "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.