Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, ordained Fathers Michael Patrick English, Francis David Dominguez Garcia II, Johnson Nhat Thanh Le, George Mgugua Ndung’u Wanjiru, Roberto Valadez Rosales, and Sean Michael Stilson, BBD, to the priesthood June 2 at a joyous Mass to a standing room only congregation at St. Rose of Lima Church. Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette concelebrated the liturgy.
The rite of ordination took place after the Gospel reading, at which time the candidates for the priesthood were called by name by Deacon Dunkan Amek to express their readiness to be ordained. After questioning Father Jonathan Felux, archdiocesan vocations director, and director of seminarians, Archbishop Gustavo “elected” or consented to ordain the candidates. The people present then showed their approval of the candidates with applause.
In his homily, the archbishop referred to the Gospel reading just heard by attendees from John 21:15-17, joining the disciples at a pleasant place on a hot day — a beach on the Sea of Tiberias. Getting out of his fishing boat, Peter sees the risen Lord standing by a charcoal fire. “What emotions might have arisen in the disciple, remembering how he had denied even knowing Jesus three times a few weeks earlier at a charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard. This is a moment of conversion, of forgiveness, of renewed commitment,” Archbishop Gustavo explained. “In response to Jesus’ questions, Peter affirms his love for the Lord three times. The risen Lord tells him to carry on Jesus’ own role as the Good Shepherd — tending the flock.”
The Missionary of the Holy Spirit told the six men that the Lord repeats those same words to them today: “Feed my lambs. . . Tend my sheep. . . Feed my sheep.” And, as he said to Peter, “Follow me.” Follow in my footsteps. Imitate my example. Put into action what you have learned from me.
“What had Peter and the others learned?” the archbishop asked. He replied, “To proclaim the good news of God’s enduring love to the afflicted, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to forgive the sinner, to overcome — with God’s grace — the powers of evil at loose in the world. To comfort those who mourn, to challenge the complacent, to feed the multitude.”
Archbishop Gustavo told the ordinands that as priests they are to shepherd others patiently, knowing that you too have weakness and vulnerability, referencing the second reading from Hebrews. “You will teach the people you serve about our common responsibility to defend and nurture the precious gift of every human life. Our ministry embraces not only for those who attend church and visit our offices but also to those on the margins of society, the forgotten, the neglected, the lonely, the oppressed, the unloved,” he continued. “Today you are ordained priests — to proclaim the Lord Jesus and his gospel of God’s enduring love for every person — especially by your attitudes, your actions, your expressions of love, mercy, and compassion.”
The San Antonio prelate concluded by praying that Our Lady, the Mother of the Church, embrace the men with her maternal love and teach them the ways of her beloved Son, Jesus the Lord. “Embrace the wonderful gift of the priesthood and share it generously, faithfully, and fully with all whom you are called to serve!”
The promise of the elect followed the homily, at which time the archbishop questioned the candidates about their intentions to serve the people of God and perform their ministry as ordained priests. The candidates then renewed their promises of obedience and respect to the archbishop and his successors.
During the litany to pray and litany of supplication, the candidates prostrated themselves as the assembly sang the ancient prayer of the church, asking the saints to pray for God’s blessing upon the men. Archbishop Gustavo placed his hands on the heads of the candidates in silence, followed by the concelebrating priests. The archbishop then offered a solemn prayer, which praised and thanked God for his unfailing gift of ministry to the church and asked for the gift of the Spirit for ministry upon these candidates. At its conclusion, the assembly responded with a resounding, “Amen.”
The newly ordained were vested with the eucharistic garments of their office, the stole and the chasuble. The archbishop anointed the hands of each new priest with sacred chrism and each received a chalice and paten. The Mass then proceeded with the new priests concelebrating at the altar.
Toward the end of the Mass, the newly ordained offered their first blessings to Archbishop Gustavo and Bishop Boulette.
As is customary, on the day after the ordination the new priests also celebrated their first public Masses among family and friends at parishes which hold special significance to the newly ordained.