Congratulations to Frs. Rich Andre, Tom Gibbons and René Constanza of the Paulist Fathers who were ordained to the priesthood today by Bishop Hurley of Grands Rapids. I’m blessed to know all three guys well.
Fr. René did a summer in New York and worked a bit with us at BustedHalo®. He’s off to Texas for his first assignment. Fr Tom is the author of Kicking and Screaming on BustedHalo® and one of my best friends in the community. I was so excited to hear he’s only going to be 90 minutes away in Toronto. Fr. Rich is a special guy who has shared much with me and been a wonderful friend. He would always take some time to visit with Marion and I when he was in New York and when we would be in DC. While happy for all three, I think I’m happiest for Rich, who has longed for this day very deeply.
All have had a long journey to the priesthood. I had tears in my eyes most of the day (What else is new?) but especially when I saw Rich’s huge smile as he processed in singly boldly with his two classmates. As the Paulists laid hands on their new brother priests, I would watch each one. Some would give an extra tap on the head. Fr. Steven Bell kissed each one of the top of their head. The new Fr. Gibbons would place his hands on the arms of the guys who he has grown close to. Mostly, though, it was a solemn celebration. At one point, blogger Paul Snatchko looked at me and said:
“This is like getting married to 150 people.”
I retorted with, “Or 6 billion…” seeing how priests are called to all the people of God and not just to each other or to one particular community or congregation. Paul just nodded and said, “Yeah, exactly!”
It was a wonderful celebration. And afterwards we went to get a blessing from all of these new priests. Most people just stood and the newly ordained would place a hand on their shoulder and pray for their needs. I decided to be a little different. Why? Well, let’s face it. I’m not the biggest “rah-rah” clergy guy. Fr. Brett Hoover would often jokingly comment that my favorite word was “clericalism.” Somewhat true.
So here’s one example of how I chose to get a blessing from the newly ordained.
I journeyed with these guys from the earliest part of their seminary experience sharing their ups and downs. We don’t ordain a lot of priests anymore. And today we ordained three really good ones. I mentioned to all of them that they have been priests already for awhile because they can not be anything else but who they are called to be. And so I knelt before each one because I hope I can continue to serve their needs in many ways.
And they all have served the people of God with much love–and in their goods and bads–God has also journeyed with them.
And He still does.
Blessings on your ordination day Fathers. May you continue to bless us with the gift that is you.