Priest Ordination – June 2007

Diocese receives “gift of three new fathers”

The Ordination to the Priesthood of Three Men
All photographs by Valeta Orlando.

On Saturday, June 16, the day before Father’s Day, God gave the Diocese of Orlando the gift of three new “fathers.” In a moving ceremony whose roots stretch back to the Acts of the Apostles, I ordained three good men to the Ministerial Priesthood. By the “laying on of hands” in the sacred rite of Holy Orders, Gilbert Medina, Jeremiah Payne and Anthony Welle were configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and, joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they were consecrated as true priests of the New Testament to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s Sacrifice. I am confident that, with the continued help of God’s grace, each one of them will be a good leader and a good shepherd of God’s people.

The Candidates prostrate themselves on the floor while the Litany of Saints is sung.

A priestly vocation, in the words of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, is both a “gift and a mystery.” To embrace the gift and to enter into the mystery which enables the priest, in communion with Jesus to act in his name and in his sight, as a shepherd of souls, is a step not to be taken lightly. Since the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice every day, sacrifice must also be the condition of his life. In giving Christ’s Body and Blood, we must also give our body and blood for the life of our people.

The Promise of Obedience.

We thank God for their “yes” given to God so generously and uncompromisingly in our Cathedral Church surrounded by the priests and deacons of the diocese and their own families and friends. Just as we prayed for them that day, we must continue to pray for them. This is the best way we can support them and all our priests in the daily living out of that “yes” as they share in the very mission of Christ — sowing the seed of his Word, dispensing his Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, and nourishing the faithful at the table of His Body and Blood.

The Candidates are examined by the Bishop…

Through their pastoral ministry and their daily celebration of the Eucharist, Fathers Medina, Welle and Payne are to help the people entrusted to their care become “alive in Christ”; by healing hearts broken by sin and despair, they will help make God’s people “witnesses to hope.” Our world, increasingly organized as if God does not matter, desperately needs that witness; our world needs to be led to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the hope that does not disappoint.

…as to their resolution and willingness to serve the people of God.

The demands of the ministry with its inevitable trials and disappointments and the fact that we carry the “treasure” of the Gospel in “earthen vessels” can sometimes tempt us priests to give into discouragement — and, perhaps, sometimes even to try the patience of our people. Priests, of course, forgive sins in the name of Christ and his Church. I asked these new priests to be generous with their time making themselves readily available to hear the confessions of their people. At the same time, I encouraged them that they do not neglect to avail themselves of the consolations of the Sacrament of Penance. The Mercy of God is always greater than their — or our own — weakness and unworthiness.

The Bishop prays the Consecratory Prayer

Pope Benedict told a group of priests he ordained just a few weeks ago: “… may the certainty that Christ does not abandon us and that no obstacle can prevent the accomplishment of his universal plan of salvation be a cause of constant consolation and a steadfast hope in you even in difficulties. The Lord’s goodness is always with you, and it is powerful.”

The Bishop stands with the three ordained priests.

May our new priests always know the power of our Lord’s goodness; and, through their ministry, may the people of central Florida also powerfully experience the goodness of our God.

The families of the newly ordained priests.