By Liz Sullivan
As he spoke the words, “Glory to God, this is the Day the Lord Has Made,” Bishop Patrick J. McGrath welcomed an overflowing assembly to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph on June 2.
As the morning sun shone through the cathedral’s stained glass windows, the Diocese of San Jose welcomed three men to the priesthood through the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit by the Bishop during the Ordination Mass.
For Edgar Elamparo, Francis Kalaw and Eric Piczon this was the day the Lord had made.
“The Holy Order of Priesthood is not static, it is not a thing that one might possess, or shape and mold it, as an external object” said Bishop McGrath in his. “It is not fixed, but is itself in motion under the guiding hand of the Lord. The Priesthood is ministry in action. The ministry to which you aspire invites – no, demands – that you be men of action who in all things and in all ways do the Lord’s bidding. But this is not frenetic energy, to be dissipated as if without purpose. Your work must be born of prayer, formed in the deep well of God’s grace as a gift transmitted to you for the service and benefit of the Church and the world.”
Joining Bishop McGrath as principal concelebrants were: Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J., Bishop Emeritus of Yakima, Washington; Monsignor Francis Cilia, Vicar General; Father Brendan McGuire, Vicar General; Father Joseph Kim, Director of Vocations and Father Jeff Fernandez, Parish Administrator of the Cathedral. In addition, many priests from inside and outside the Diocese concelebrated the Mass.
On July 1, the new priests will take up their first assignments. Father Elamparo will be the Parochial Vicar at Holy Spirit Parish. Father Kalaw becomes the Parochial Vicar at Saint Catherine of Alexandria Parish. And Father Piczon as Parochial Vicar at Saint Leo the Great Parish.
“The Diocese of San Jose has waited in joy for this day. The parishes to which you will be sent eagerly anticipate your arrival there next month,” added Bishop McGrath. “In the meantime, your families, friends and, in particular, the Filipino community of San Jose and northern California will want to make you feel as though you are conquering heroes. Do not let this feed your egos. Remember Whose you are, for it is His message, His ministry, and His sacraments that you share.”
This is the day the Lord has made. Alleluia!
All photos courtesy of Jen Vazquez, click here to view more photos.
Ordination to the Priesthood – Bishop McGrath’s Homily
Eric, Francis and Edgar, from the readings you have chosen for this liturgy, we learn about the life and ministry to which the Church ordains you this morning.
The Holy Order of Priesthood is not static, it is not a thing that one might possess, or shape and mold it, as an external object. It is not fixed, but is itself in motion under the guiding hand of the Lord. The Priesthood is ministry in action.
The one who is anointed by the Lord is ‘sent’ to ‘bind up,’ to ‘proclaim,’ and to ‘announce.’ Yes, ministry in action; it is alive, constantly on the move, achieving in the Church, for the sake of the People of God, whatever the Lord directs.
As he spoke to his disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus urged them to ‘remain’ in Him, just as he is in the Father. He calls them to love. Defined in the terms of his own ‘laying down’ His life, they are ‘to go and to bear fruit’ following the Lord’s own self-surrender, His Body broken and His Blood poured out.
Paul, writing to the younger Timothy, urges him to remain steadfast and, in spite of his youth, and to set an example of fidelity and service in the Lord.
The ministry to which you aspire invites – no, demands – that you be men of action who in all things and in all ways do the Lord’s bidding. But this is not frenetic energy, to be dissipated as if without purpose. Your work must be born of prayer, formed in the deep well of God’s grace as a gift transmitted to you for the service and benefit of the Church and the world.
It can be so easy to be caught up in the actions that you will perform, whether sacramental, pastoral or administrative. These, while objectively good, cannot be an end in themselves, as if priestly ministry is nothing more than well-meaning acts of social service. Since it is Christ’s work and His anointing that you share, you must indeed remain always in Him. Apart from the vine, you know, the branches wither and die.
Your formation over these many years, culminating at Saint Patrick’s and Saint Mary of the Lake Seminaries, gives you a context and tools for your ministry. Philosophy and theology ground your pastoral response to the real-life situations of the people entrusted to your care.
Remember that even canon law establishes as the supreme law the salvation of souls, otherwise called ‘the health of the people.’ Taking direction from our Holy Father, Francis, we cannot divorce the application of the law from the individuals, couples and families who stand before us. We must never be so rigid as not to be able to provide for them comfort and reassurance of God’s love, mercy and care for them. Black and white categories become a bit gray when real people are involved. But you already know this from your pastoral practice and from your own lives.
This does not mean that you should not strive for the highest good, but that the principles of gradualism, of encounter and accompaniment will allow pastoral care that is truly pastoral and caring.
Francis, Eric and Edgar, as you are advanced to the order of the presbyterate, apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the Teacher. Share with all people the Word of God you received with joy. Meditate on the Word of the Lord, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach. In the celebration of the Eucharist, you will offer true spiritual food, the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.
Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the People of God. Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ so that by word and action you may build up the House of God, which is the Church.
When you baptize you will bring new believers into the People of God. In the Sacrament of Penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. As Pope Francis pleaded with the deacons he was ordaining priests just last month, I also say this to you: “Please do not tire of being merciful.” Knowing how much the Lord forgives you, be always merciful.” Be always merciful!
In the Anointing of the Sick, you will encourage and console the sick and the dying. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the People of God but for the whole of humanity.
Remember that you will never be alone in your ministry. The Lord – Whose emissaries you are – will be with you, as will your pastors and other priests, religious and lay ministers whose years of experience and expertise should never be underestimated.
Listen to them; learn from them; be open to the different approaches they may bring to the common work you share. And I ask them, also, to be open to the possibility that you, too, may bring no small bit of wisdom to those efforts.
The Diocese of San Jose has waited in joy for this day. The parishes to which you will be sent eagerly anticipate your arrival there next month. In the meantime, your families, friends and, in particular, the Filipino community of San Jose and northern California will want to make you feel as though you are conquering heroes. Do not let this feed your egos.
Remember Whose you are, for it is His message, His ministry, and His sacraments that you share.
Finally, to your families – especially your parents – on behalf of the Church, I offer my deepest thanks for sharing your sons and brothers with us. I am certain that your love for them is reflected in their desire to offer loving service to the Church.
May God bless you all.