Archbishop Dolan ordained nine men to the priesthood at St. Patrick’s Cathedral May 14 and told them that they must be the image of Christ for the people they serve. In his homily he instructed them to “look into the face of Jesus and see there reflected your own, for you are now an alter Christus,” another Christ.
Addressing the men as “dear sons and brothers, and soon-to-be Fathers,” he told them that their priesthood is not truly about them.
“It’s all about Jesus and his Church,” he said. “It’s all about Jesus alive in his sacraments and his word.”
The congregation almost filled the cathedral; attending were family members and friends of those being ordained, as well as members of parishes where they had served as seminarians. The mood was joyous, and joy was reflected on the faces of the nine men as they marched in the long entrance procession and took their places in the sanctuary.
Four of the new priests were ordained for the New York Archdiocese. Five were ordained for the Bronx-based Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; the friars serve in the archdiocese, elsewhere in the United States and overseas.
Ordained for the archdiocese were Father Ransford Clarke, Father Brian Graebe, Father Casmir Mung’aho, and Father Adaly Rosado. Ordained for the Franciscans were Father Columba Maria Jordan, C.F.R., Father Sebastian Maria Kajko, C.F.R., Father Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, C.F.R., Father Giuseppe Maria Siniscalchi, C.F.R., and Father Daniel Williamson, C.F.R.
Archbishop Dolan thanked all those who assisted the men in reaching ordination, including their parents and families as well as those who taught and prepared them at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, and St. John Neumann Seminary College.
After Mass, the newly ordained priests gave the traditional first blessings to relatives and friends, who waited patiently in long lines.
Father Mung’aho said he felt “excited and full of joy,” and added that he looked forward to celebrating Mass, “acting in the person of Christ.”
Father Clarke said his ordination was “a great consummation of a lot of people’s effort and work: my family, my friends, and the great St. Joseph’s Seminary.” He said he was awed by the responsibility of priesthood. “It’s a burden, but it’s a good burden,” he said, quoting the words of Christ, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Franciscan Father Jeremiah said, “I thought how humble God is, to choose someone like myself who’s so unworthy—but he still calls.”
The first to receive their blessings was the one who ordained them. At the conclusion of the Mass, Archbishop Dolan knelt on a prie-dieu in the center of the sanctuary and kissed the hands of each new priest as soon as the blessing had been given.
Cardinal Egan presided at the Mass. Six bishops and about 120 priests concelebrated, including Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary.
The day was the feast of St. Matthias, and the first reading, from Acts of the Apostles, was about the choosing of Matthias, soon after the Resurrection of Christ, to take the place of Judas Iscariot. At the beginning of his homily, Archbishop Dolan said, “Jesus takes care of his Church. This glorious morning he gives us nine new Matthiases, new apostles to shepherd his people as priests of Jesus Christ.”
In his homily, he spoke of his recent pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Order of Malta, and of carrying a large monstrance in the procession of the sick. The sacred host was in its glass disc only inches from his eyes, he said, and as he marched, the glass reflected the procession behind him.
“I could see wheelchairs, the mats, the crutches, and the at times agonized faces and writhing bodies of the thousands and thousands of sick,” he said, “and I realized that, in them, I was also looking upon the face of Christ.” He said he saw the pilgrims who were caring for the sick, and the statue of Mary, who had been “a literal monstrance,” carrying Jesus in her womb, at Bethlehem and on Calvary. “Most haunting of all as he looked at the host in the glass, he said, was the reflection of his own face.
“You look into the face of Jesus,” he told the men to be ordained, “and you see reflected there, as I did at Lourdes, the people you will serve as priests: the sick, the searching, the struggling, the suffering of soul, mind and body.” He told them to look and see their brother priests and bishops, and God’s people, and Mary, “and finally, with a lot of trepidation, look into the face of Jesus and see there, reflected, your own…You live now, oh no, not you at all, but Christ in you.”
Father Graebe, standing in the cathedral’s Lady Chapel after giving blessings to scores of relatives and friends, told CNY that he felt “overwhelming gratitude at the goodness of God.”
“My heart is so full,” he said.
His mother, Alice Graebe, spoke with emotion of her son’s “lifelong journey” to priesthood, and how it has affected his family.
“Our faith has deepened because of him,” she said. “We have been so enriched by his vocation…I’m so happy he listened to God calling him.” She urged parents whose children express an interest in priesthood or religious life to “pray, be supportive…and if there is a vocation there, try to help foster it.”
“It’s so important for parents, as the foundation of their children’s faith, to foster that calling,” she said.
Father Graebe’s father, Henry Graebe Jr., said he was “ecstatic.” The Graebe’s have two sons and two daughters; their other son, Hank, is studying for the priesthood with the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter.
Father Adaly Rosado told CNY, “God’s calling all of us to a vocation, whether the single life, the married life or the priesthood. He called me to be a priest, and today I have much joy, happiness and peace. If we want true happiness, we must do what God wants in our lives, and (if we) ask him for it, he’ll let us know.”
His parents, Margarita and Adaly Rosado Sr., were overjoyed. “I feel like a millionaire today,” Rosado said. “We’re never going to forget this day. We prayed for him…When I saw him there, I was crying.”
The Church teaches that the sacrament of holy orders causes a permanent spiritual change in the person receiving it. Father Clarke summed it up in an interview when he said, “The priesthood is something we are, it’s not something we do.”