Eight priests ordained on June 4 ‘inflamed with the Holy Spirit’, says Bishop Burbidge

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge ordained eight men to the priesthood June 4 during a standing mass at St. Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington. The ordinandi are Fathers Philip D. Briggs, Peter J. Clem, YA, John F. O’Farrell, C. Mauricio Portillo, Robert C. Renner, Daniel S. Reuwer, Daniel A. Rice, and Peter J. St. George .

Bishop Burbidge observed that the eight men were “on fire with the fire of the Holy Spirit” – a fact which he said was confirmed earlier in the morning by a transformer fire in the chancery building next to the cathedral. He said one of the ordinandi remarked that it must be a special sign. “All is calm and all is well now” in the chancery, Bishop Burbidge said, “but the fire of the Holy Spirit will never be extinguished.”

In his homily, the bishop noted that every year the diocese produces one-minute videos on each of the ordained men, and “it is amazing how such short videos reveal their characters and personalities. It was easy to see their holiness, joy and zeal,” he said.

He said three words kept coming up in all the videos in one form or another: thanksgiving, service and trust. “The candidates first expressed their gratitude to God who, as the prophet Jeremiah tells us (in the first reading of the Mass) today, formed them in the womb of their mother and now appoints them to come out as his anointed ones, his priests. I was so inspired that I heard each of them begin the video saying with grateful hearts, “I will soon be ordained a priest of Jesus Christ.” said Bishop Burbidge.

Looking around at the packed congregation, he noted that “a spirit of thanksgiving is certainly evident in this cathedral today because we will soon witness a mighty work of God when, through the imposition of the hands and the prayer of ordination, the transmission of the ministerial priesthood will be accomplished and these men: your sons, your brothers, the members of your family and your friends, will soon be configured in a unique way and forever to the very person of Jesus Christ. We are grateful to their parents, seminary teachers, and all who played a role in guiding them on this special day in their lives.

He told the ordinandi that they are sent “at a difficult and difficult time in our world. This reality was clearly expressed in the speeches given by the recent graduates of our four Catholic secondary schools. They recognized the spiritual and emotional toll the past two years have taken on them. At the same time, they conveyed that their faith and trust in the Lord was quickened in new ways and that they found in Him a strength they had never believed possible.

“Dear candidates, this is exactly what is at the heart of your priestly service: to raise the faith and hope of your parishioners in the Lord, the only one who sustains us. You will do this by preaching his Word, remembering the message of Saint Paul: “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Preach the truth with love,” Bishop Burbidge said, adding, “God’s people deserve and need nothing less!”

He said he sometimes fears that men about to be ordained priests “might be overwhelmed as they listen to all that is expected of them. Remember, dear candidates, your trust in the Lord. He noted that Pope Francis often emphasizes the need for “closeness in their ministry” of priests: closeness to their bishop, to their brother priests, to the people they serve and, above all, closeness to God.

“Your closeness to God and your constant seeking of the help of Mary and Joseph will sustain your spirit of thanksgiving and your desire to offer faithful and sacrificial priestly service to Our Lord, to his Church and to his people. , with deep confidence in his promise to be with you today and forever. Go forward in the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit,” he concluded.

The eight men were called by name and promised to exercise their priestly office worthily: preaching the Gospel, celebrating the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation, praying for the people entrusted to their care, and always uniting more closely to Christ as his priests. Each knelt before the bishop, put their hand in his and promised respect and obedience to him and his successors, with the words “I do”.

During the moving litany of supplication, the ordinandi prostrated themselves before the altar while the litany of the saints was sung. One by one, they went to kneel again before the bishop, while he laid his hands on each of their heads in a sign of blessing. Then 120 priests from the diocese present put their hands on the head of each of the ordinandi. As the eight men returned to their places and knelt, the bishop recited the ordination prayer.

Then the newly ordained rose and were helped into the stole and chasuble by: Fr. Peter McShurley for Fr. Briggs; Father Jack Peterson, YA, for Father Clem, YA; Father Stephen Vaccaro for Father O’Farrell; Father Christopher Pollard for Father Portillo; Father John O’Donohue for Father Renner; Msgr. Vincent Brady, for Father Reuwer (his childhood pastor from England); Father Nicholas Blank for Father Rice; and Father Reed Frey, CO, for Father St. George.

The newly ordained knelt before the bishop as he anointed the palms of their hands with holy chrism. After washing and returning, he placed a paten with bread and a chalice of wine in everyone’s hands. The bishop then gave each of the newly ordained the fraternal kiss as did the other priests present.

The new priests then gathered around the altar to concelebrate Mass. In a moving final part of the ceremony, everyone went to Bishop Burbidge, who knelt before them for a blessing. As the newly ordained marched down the central aisle of the cathedral, they were greeted with cheers and long applause.

Outside after Mass, friends and relatives lined up in the shade of the canopy tents for hugs and the traditional first blessings of the newly ordained.

David Lima of Stafford, assistant superintendent of the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools, lined up with his family outside Father Reuwer’s tent. They taught together years ago at St. William of York School in Stafford, and Father Reuwer taught a few of his children. “He always had a presence of God around him,” Lima said.

Springfield’s Cathy Wright, who teaches communications at George Mason University in Fairfax, lined up to greet Father Clem, who she said had been one of her students. “He can connect with all kinds of people,” she said, adding that his love of pop culture makes him especially good at relating to young people.

“I feel in a word of joy,” said Father Clem. “It’s really hard to look out and not cry seeing my whole life in front of me. I can’t stop thinking of the words, ‘There is no greater gift than giving my life for your friends,” and that’s what I do. It’s a blessing and a gift to lay down my life for my friends and family.

The new priests will serve as parochial vicars: Father Briggs at St. Philip’s in Falls Church; Father Clem at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Alexandria; Father O’Farrell at St. Theresa’s Church in Ashburn; Father Portillo at Christ the Redeemer Church in Sterling; Father Renner at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg; Father Reuwer at All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas; Father Rice at Holy Family Church in Dale City and Father St. George at Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria.

The new priests will celebrate their first masses on the Solemnity of Pentecost, June 5.

Ashleigh Kassock contributed to this story.

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