Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This last Saturday, I ordained five men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. These men were of diverse backgrounds and they came to know their vocation through various means. The one story that united all of them, was the story of Jesus as recounted in His Church. As they integrate Christ’s story into their own lives, they will encourage others to do the same, discovering what God desires for them in this world and leading them to their lives in the next.
They say that lives can be changed in an instant. I contemplated that when I placed my hands on the heads of these five men, which is the sacramental sign of ordination. This simple action could not be any more than fifteen seconds, but in that moment, they became priests for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Think about how grace is generously given to so many by the Church -- in baptism, the pouring of water and the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” take less than a minute to say, but the person is made a member of Christ’s body, the Church, sharing everlasting life. In confession, absolution is given, and sins are taken away in less than a minute and the vows affirmed by a couple in their marriage ceremony, are declared in just minutes and the two are made one in a covenant with God. This great outflowing of God’s grace through His Church and the sacramental life transforms us. And of course, it is the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ that we acknowledge in our “Amen” (a solemn affirmation) to the Body of Christ.
These men will now declare God’s presence in the lives of the faithful. Through the priesthood, they are empowered to be conduits of God’s grace-giving moments. It will, at times, be less than a minute and lives will be changed.
Last Sunday, we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord. He was leaving them, his friends, after His Resurrection and now ascending to the Father. They must have been heartbroken, but he left them, and us, His directions to follow: “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always until the end of the age.”
We stand with the disciples in receiving our Lord’s great mandate. We are the Church, His Body, and we, like those I have ordained, must use our stories to bring others into a relationship with Jesus, to discover Him in our life stories, and assist others to do the same, through the power of the Holy Spirit. His presence is proclaimed in the Church. Throughout the ages, men and women have freely given their lives in testimony to the truth that He lives. In the reading from Acts, two messengers challenge the disciples, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” He will return. Now get to work and direct others as he has commanded to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the May 23, 2023, "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.