HARTFORD – During the solemn and holy rite of Ordination to the Priesthood, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair welcomed five new priests into the Archdiocese of Hartford on May 21 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Approximately 100 priests and deacons and countless family members and friends joined in the celebration.
The candidates for ordination were Deacons Héctor M. Rangel Guerrero, Matthew Gary Gworek, Patrick Michael Kane, Philip Thomas O’Neill and Philip Roy Schulze. See photo gallery at http://thecatholictranscript.zenfolio.com/p319616785.
Archbishop Blair was the ordaining prelate. The concelebrants were Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell, Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza.
Father Jeffrey A. Gubbiotti, director of vocations, presented the five men to the archbishop and declared them worthy. All in attendance responded their assent with applause.
During his homily, Archbishop Blair spoke to the people and the elect about the priestly office.
“The priestly gift of self that our sons and brothers make today is just the beginning. Every day for the rest of their lives, they must conform their lives to the glory of Christ’s priestly office by serving the people entrusted to their pastoral care.”
According to Archbishop Blair, being a priest often means sacrificing ambition, pleasure and comfort, working in the midst of disbelief and hostility, winning people over to the truth of the faith and preaching the joy of the Gospel through pastoral charity. Priests must ask God for the wisdom and discretion to preach a Gospel of conversion, while at the same time serve as a beacon of divine mercy.
Following the homily, the five men promised obedience to the order of bishops and to consecrate themselves to God for the salvation of all.
The five men laid prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary, giving their lives over to God, as all in attendance knelt and prayed the Litany of the Saints. Two cantors chanted the names of the angels and saints as the entire congregation responded with the words “Pray for us,” which echoed throughout the cathedral.
The five men were then called up one at a time and knelt before Archbishop Blair as he laid his hands on their heads, calling upon the power of the Holy Spirit. All of the priests in attendance filed past the five men and silently laid their hands on each one to signify their solidarity. The cathedral bells pealed at the conclusion of this portion of the rite.
The five newly ordained priests were invested with stoles and chasubles. Then each knelt before the archbishop for the anointing of hands, and each received the chalice.
Finally, each newly ordained priest was embraced by Archbishop Blair as well as all the priests in the Kiss of Peace.
Archbishop Blair led the congregation in praying a special prayer to consecrate the Cathedral of St. Joseph to the Virgin Mary in the month of May.
He also thanked the many individuals who encouraged and supported the five men along their path to the priesthood, including church pastors, the archdiocesan board, the St. John Vianney Vocation Prayer Society, Father Gubbiotti and spiritual directors and representatives from four seminaries. He saved his most special thank you for the parents of the newly ordained priests.
“Thank you for the gift of your sons to the service of the church,” a grateful Archbishop Blair said.
Following the ordination and Mass, each newly ordained priest posed for photos with family members and the archbishop. Each also shared his thoughts on the meaning of the day.
“It feels amazing in so many ways,” said Father Gworek, “after so much time put into discernment and formation to finally get here. It’s an incredible blessing. It’s a wonderful time to start this new life and share it with others.”
“It’s a warm and inviting feeling of doing God’s mission,” said Father Schulze.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Father Kane. “All the graces from the Ordination and Mass are flooding me right now. It’s hasn’t really sunk in but it’s such a wonderful feeling. I’m so happy to be a priest.”
“It’s completely to fulfill God’s will,” said Father Rangel Guerrero.
“It’s wonderful,” said Father O’Neill. “It’s like a wonderful beginning to what I think will be a fruitful time in my life. I was thinking when I was up there, I was marveling that I could be loved this way by the Lord, and I only hope I can bring this love to others.”
To complete the day, Archbishop Blair announced the parishes at which the new priests will serve as parochial vicars: Father Rangel Guerrero, St. Joseph Parish in Bristol; Father Gworek, St. Mary Parish in Branford; Father Kane, St. Mary and St. Robert Bellarmine parishes in Windsor Locks; Father O’Neill, St. Bridget and St. Thomas Becket parishes in Cheshire; Father Schulze, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Watertown.