This year, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington celebrates the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood for three men. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge reflects on the gift of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
By: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington
I have had many memorable firsts in my short time as Bishop of Arlington, but there is one event that I have been anticipating with a singular joy: celebrating my first Priesthood ordinations. By God’s grace, I will ordain Deacons Steven Oetjen, Stephen Vaccaro and Jordan Willard to the Priesthood on Saturday, June 10, at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington. In preparation for this momentous occasion in the lives of these men and the life of this Diocese, allow me to reflect upon the gift of the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the life of the Church and our role as a Church to pray for and encourage future priests.
First, the ordination of priests reminds us of the magnificent gift that is the ministerial Priesthood. While all Christians share in the common priesthood through the Sacrament of Baptism, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders men set apart by God and called forth to a life of service to the Church are ordained as priests in service to the Church. When I lay my hands upon the men who present themselves for Holy Orders and offer the Prayer of Ordination, God will conform their very being to Jesus Christ, the High Priest. From that point they will be priests forever. With this Sacrament comes the great responsibility of the ministerial Priesthood, and I am confident that these three men to be ordained are, with God’s grace, willing and able to live worthily the call they have received from the Lord through their faithful efforts and our prayerful intercession.
I am grateful to Bishop Paul S. Loverde and those before me who have helped establish a culture of prayerful support for priestly vocations in our diocese, and I will continue supporting this culture as the Bishop of Arlington. To that end, inspired by the ordination of faithful, holy priests, I ask you to join me in adding the intentions of our seminarians to your daily prayer. In my seminary visits this year, I have been encouraged by the caliber of all of our men in formation to the Priesthood, and by the quality of the training they are receiving. Our 43 seminarians are filled with great joy and many talents and gifts that will help them spread the Gospel. They have courageously responded to the Lord’s call, but discernment is an ongoing process and the challenges facing them and all seminarians are many. Please join me in praying daily for them as they continue to follow God’s will.
I also ask you to continue to encourage priestly vocations in your parishes by reaching out to those men you feel God may be calling to serve the Church as a priest. I am forever grateful to the high school teacher who asked me if I had ever considered the Priesthood, because that question inspired me to truly discern a vocation that, up to that point, I had not yet seriously considered. Together, with God’s grace, may we continue to build a prayerful culture of vocations in order that more will generously respond to the God’s call to Priesthood.
Jesus tells us, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Lk 10:2). As we offer prayers of thanksgiving for the men I am blessed to ordain priests on June 10, may we join together also in praying for our seminarians and all other men that God is calling to serve His Church as a priest.
Bishop Burbidge will celebrate the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 10, 2017, at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More. View other ordination events.
Column reprinted from the May 31, 2017, edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald. View the original publication.