Priesthood Ordination

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Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of a great missionary priest and bishop from the 8th century, Saint Boniface, known in history as “the Apostle of the Germans.” Saint Boniface established many dioceses in Germany, including the diocese of Freising which eventually became the archdiocese of Munich and Freising. As you may know, the future Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was Archbishop there before being called to serve in Rome by Pope Saint John Paul II. In his first year as Archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger said the following at the ordination of new priests in the diocese established by Saint Boniface, words that resonate with me today at this Ordination Mass:   

“The day of priestly ordinations is the harvest day of a diocese, one of the high points in its life. For this day demonstrates how much faith is alive in a local Church, how much hope-filled courage that can give young men the strength and the joy to entrust themselves to the Lord’s service in the knowledge that the common faith of the Church will support them in it. At the same time, it is a day that decides the life, growth, or withering of a diocese.  For if the Eucharist were no longer the living center of a local Church, then everything else in her would slowly and inevitably dry up, too.” 

Brothers and sisters, today is the harvest day of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. It shows the vitality of the Church in our diocese. This is the largest ordination class in our diocese since 1962. That’s 59 years. The Lord has willed to call seven young men who stand before the altar of the Lord today, who have responded to His call to teach, sanctify, and shepherd God’s people here in our diocese:  Michael, Paolo, Daniel, Benjamin, Keeton, Augustine, and Logan. Through the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination, they will be consecrated to the Lord and share in His mission as High Priest and Shepherd of the Church. We pray that their life and ministry will help build up the Church in our diocese, that, through them, the Holy Spirit will lead many souls to eternal life. 

Saint Boniface was passionate about the Word of God, a Word that he lived, preached, and witnessed to until he gave the supreme gift of himself in martyrdom. Like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, he laid down his life for the sheep. We ask for Saint Boniface’s intercession for the seven young men who are ordained to the priesthood today, that they will be filled with Saint Boniface’s ardent faith and zeal for the Gospel. 

Celebrating this ordination on the memorial of a priest and bishop who was tireless in his apostolic activity reminds us that, by its very nature, the priesthood has a missionary nature. By the laying on of hands and prayer of ordination, these young men are consecrated today to share in the mission entrusted by Christ to the apostles. They are anointed today to lead God’s people in love, to nourish them with His word, and to strengthen them with the sacraments. 

My sons, I pray that you will have a profound missionary spirit. The Holy Spirit anoints you today, as we heard in the reading from the prophet Isaiah, “to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, t