At the Mass of Ordination for the six priests he ordained May 25, Cardinal Dolan thanked a litany of people for their presence in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, from bishops, priests and deacons to consecrated religious, members of the seminary community and vocations ministers, and family members of the newly ordained as well as new priests themselves.
The cardinal’s final words of thanks, which he called “the most essential of all,” were reserved for the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, the cardinal said, “had better be with us, with His awesome presence and the activity and power of the Spirit.”
Cardinal Dolan reminded all who were present in the cathedral for the Saturday morning liturgy “how frequently the Ordination Rite begs the Holy Spirit’s presence.”
He called upon the Holy Spirit “to reorder” the lives of the men being ordained, and to configure them to “God the Son,” so their new sacramental ministry in baptism, penance, Holy Eucharist, anointing and preaching will be done in “partnership” with the Holy Spirit.
The cardinal offered examples from the lives of several outstanding cardinals and priests, including Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century English prelate whose canonization was approved by Pope Francis in February; Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., the late longtime president of the University of Notre Dame; and Cardinal John O’Connor, the late Archbishop of New York, whom Cardinal Dolan said began his day with the following prayer: “Dear Holy Spirit, Might nothing I do or say today get in Your way.”
The new priests include five who were ordained as priests of the Archdiocese of New York—Father Joseph C. Akunaeziri, Father John J. Figueroa, Father Walter J. Genito Jr., Father Roger Kwan and Father Ryan A. Muldoon—and Father Gabriel Monahan, C.F.R., who was ordained for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
The priests completed their priestly formation at four major seminaries, including three at St. Joseph’s, Dunwoodie; and one each at North American College, Rome; Theological College, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.; and St. Pope John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Mass.
Concelebrants of the Mass of Ordination were Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry of the Archdiocese of Chicago and 132 priests. Also joining the ordinandi in the procession to the altar were many permanent deacons and seminarians of the archdiocese.
As Cardinal Dolan and the newly ordained priests prayed the Eucharistic Prayer during Mass, the concelebrants stood several rows deep in front of the altar. The priests participated in the Ordination Rite with the laying on of hands on their new brethren.
A poignant moment after Communion came when the newly ordained priests offered first blessings to Cardinal Dolan, who was kneeling before them.
After Mass, the new priests extended more first blessings to family members and friends at stations set up throughout the cathedral.
Andrew Gauzza, a parishioner of St. Martin de Porres in Poughkeepsie, attended the Mass with his family, including his wife, Shannon, and sons, Andrew Jr. and Gio.
Mr. Gauzza credited one of the newly ordained priests, Father Genito, as being “a great deal of the reason we’re extremely Catholic today.”
“He gave me an understanding of the faith, and why.”
Father Genito became close with the family during a summer assignment at the Poughkeepsie parish, and they have maintained contact with him.
“He’s been an incredible influence,” said Andrew Jr., 20, a student at Manhattan College.
“He’s the first guy I was really able to talk theology with…It’s awesome to see him as a priest.”
Albanydia Torres and Pedro Lugo are friends and active parishioners of Holy Cross in the Bronx, who chatted with CNY while waiting for Father Figueroa to arrive at his blessing station.
“He’s a very humble person,” said Mrs. Torres of Father Figueroa. “He worked very hard in my parish.”
Mrs. Torres, who is married to Deacon Luis Torres, serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and is a member of the prayer group and the Cursillo movement at Holy Cross.
Lugo cited Father Figueroa’s compassion, and noted that he was serving at Calvary Hospital when he was stationed at Holy Cross.
Both remembered Father Figueroa’s daily strolls through the Soundview neighborhood praying the Rosary. “He spoke with the people. He’ll be an excellent priest,” said Lugo, who serves as a lector and is member of the parish’s development committee.
Father George Sears spoke with CNY near the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the front of the cathedral. He is the rector of Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, Queens, where he and the faculty there form men who go on to pursue the priesthood.
He told CNY the best advice he had for the priests ordained that day is they live their lives in thanksgiving for all the things God is doing through them, according to the tenets of Psalm 119.
“Pour out your life in response to that,” Father Sears said.
ASSIGNMENTS FOR THE NEWLY ORDAINED PRIESTS
Father Joseph Akunaeziri, Parochial Vicar
St. Barnabas Parish, the Bronx
Effective June 16
Father John Figueroa, Parochial Vicar
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Shrub Oak
Effective June 16
Father Walter Genito, Parochial Vicar
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Scarsdale
Effective May 31, summer assignment
Father Roger Kwan, Parochial Vicar,
St. Clare of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier Parish, the Bronx
Effective June 16
Father Ryan Muldoon, Parochial Vicar
St. Joseph Parish, Bronxville
Effective June 16, summer assignment