Ordination Anniversary

Many priests observe the anniversary of their ordination at this time of year. It is a common time for ordinations, probably because Ember Days were common times for ordinations and Ember Days fall during the Pentecost Octave.  It is my anniversary of ordination today, 21 years ago, by Bl. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica. It was not only the Feast of St. Philip Neri, but it was also Trinity Sunday. A beautiful sunny day.

I got up that morning, ate breakfast, said my prayers, and walked alone across town to the basilica, where I entered through the main doors with the rest of the crowd. After that, however, I went to the right, to the nave, where we vested and waited for the Holy Father. My family members came separately from a different part of town. They had special tickets which brought them very close to the altar.

Since we were 60 in number, and from many countries, the basilica was absolutely jammed with people from all over the world who had come for the ordinations. The number of people, probably some 50k since it was packed to the gills with families and friends and whole colleges and the inevitable tourists, made the responses during the Litany of Saints flow over us palpably as we lay on the floor. Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was there because a couple men were being ordained for the male component of the Missionaries. That group never really got traction. In any event, my parents and grandmother sat right behind her. I had arranged for my grandmother, a convert to Catholicism in her 80′s, to receive Communion from the Holy Father.

I often wonder what happened to the other men with whom I was ordained. I only knew a couple of them personally, since I had been at the Lateran University with them. I know that one fellow is now a bishop in poor Haiti. Also, it was the first year that the Iron Curtain was raised enough in Romania so that a few men were permitted out of the country to come to Rome to be ordained by the Pope. There were quite a few Opus Dei guys ordained with us. Another was the sad, so very sad, John Corapi of the SOLT group. Another of them was ordained that day too. One priest is in England, in Southwark, and it would be great to meet with him during some trip. I reached out to a few some years ago and got only a few responses. I may try again some day, perhaps by writing to their dioceses or institutes and asking that my letter be forwarded.

God doesn’t choose men who are worthy. He chooses those whom it pleases Him to choose. In regard to myself, it’s all a great mystery to me and I will probably won’t get it until I die.

Anecdote: After Mass we lined up, new priests on one side of the side nave, all the cardinals and various prelates on the other, and the Holy Father came and greeted us all.  To my shock, my boss the late and great Augustine Card. Mayer who had joined the recessional, came across the nave and, in the sight of the Roman Pontiff, knelt down and asked for my blessing. It was one of several startling lessons he gave me.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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67 Responses to Ordination Anniversary

  1. Marcus der mit dem C says:

    My congratulations and prayers to you, Father Z.!

    In memory of His Eminency Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer OSB

  2. Michelle S. says:

    Just a thank you for sharing this with us today, Father. How blessed we are that God did choose you, and that you answered His call. I will offer special prayers for you on your anniversary.

  3. nanetteclaret says:

    Many blessings and good wishes for your anniversary, Father. The Lord has richly blessed us in giving you to us as our “blogosphere” priest! Your advice and counsel are invaluable, especially for those of us out here in the vast spiritual wasteland. Please know that we pray for you and your intentions every day.

  4. benedetta says:

    Beautiful, Fr. Z! Ad multos annos!

  5. wanda says:

    Congratulations, Fr. Z. Many blessings to you today and always. Can’t describe how blessed I feel to have stumbled across your place. May God supply all of your needs as you serve him, the Church and your virtual flock.

  6. chantgirl says:

    Congratulations, Fr., and thank you for all you do!

  7. FrCharles says:

    Thanks for this beautiful recollection, Father. As one of the old friars taught me, “the blessing of a new priest is worth wearing out two horses.”

  8. yatzer says:

    Thanks for answering the call, Father!

  9. David Zampino says:

    Best wishes, Father! May God grant you many, many more!

  10. poohbear says:

    Congratulations, Father. Thank you for being here for us in internet land. You touch many more live than you know.

  11. ocds says:

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful memories with us. You make the internet a better place. May God continue to bless you and keep you.

  12. FloridaJoan says:

    Best wishes on your anniversary Father Z and thank you for helping to shepherd His sheep.
    You are in my prayers, especially today.

    pax et bonum

  13. AnnAsher says:

    Happy Anniversary! May the Blessing of God that is upon you and within you remain ever present to you for ever and ever.
    Thank you for being a man it pleased God to call. Thank you for serving. Thank you for being faithful.

  14. The Cobbler says:

    Seems like quite a small world with all those different people together for these ordinations. Thanks for sharing with us! Father, have you ever considered writing a memoire laced with digressions on ancient history, astronomy, cooking, and the development of the Mass? It would go well alongside the book everyone wants you to write compiling your meditations on what the prayer really says.

  15. racjax says:

    What a moving recollection of that special day. Once again, it is extraordinary how many different peoples’ paths crossed specifically on that day. Thank you for your priesthood and your commitment to helping us all grow deeply in our faith. You have complied with God’s will for you and continue to do so.

  16. Grateful Catholic says:

    A Memorare for you and your intentions on this special day, Father. Congratulations!

  17. off2 says:

    May God grant you many years, Father! There is something special about a twenty-first anniversary.

  18. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Ad multos annos, Pater!

  19. Mike says:

    Congratulations, Father! May you have many more years, every one full of joy and faithfulness to your vocation and the Lord’s Holy Church!

  20. acardnal says:

    Congratulations Father Z! Ad Multos Annos.

    Thank you for being faithful to the Truth and your convictions by converting to the Catholic Church and subsequently to respond courageously to the vocation of Holy Orders. I pray for priests in my daily rosary to be faithful, holy and pure. They are under constant attack! I will remember you especially on Pentecost Sunday as I assist at Holy Mass. Thank you for your Internet apostolate. I learn much from it. God bless you.

  21. irishgirl says:

    Happy 21st anniversary, Father Z! Wow-how has the time flown! Thank you for sharing with us your memories of that long-ago day in St. Peter’s!
    I’ve never met you ‘in person’ (would love to if you came to Upstate NY and had either a talk or a blognic), but you are one of three priests I know who were ordained by Blessed John Paul II.
    The first one is from England, in the Diocese of Salford (Manchester). He was ordained thirty years ago on May 31st, during the visit of JP II to the UK. I met him [the priest] on October 13, 1988 in Fatima, Portugal-and we’ve been corresponding (and occasionally phone calling) ever since!
    The second one is from my area and my diocese. I met him through a mutual friend in 1979-in fact, it was right during the time of John Paul’s first visit to the US as Pope. We corresponded for a time, and then I got invited to his ordination at St. Peter’s in June, 1983. It was awesome to be there, and see my friend ordained by the Holy Father! It was also the last time I was in Italy.
    Anyway…..have a blessed ordination anniversary, Father Z! Thank you for all the hard work you do on this blog!
    We, your ‘online flock’, love you!

  22. cregduff says:

    When I think of your fiat, whether understood or not, two things today come to mind. Firstly, is the model fiat of Our Lady, an ultimate trust, and how closely that yes is connected to the heart of the love of Jesus.
    Second, because today is Memorial Day weekend in the US, the sacrifices and living lives of negation of self for the betterment of country, or in your case, church souls, is a model of virtue in a day of mixed up, upside down values.
    Thank you for continuing to say yes, to serve Gods people in your unique Z-way.
    Wishing you a very happy anniversary. I hope you treat yourself with a wonderful, delicious meal, appropriate beverage, etc.

  23. Jack Hughes says:

    Congratulations Father

    Hoping the same will happen to me one day…………….

  24. rroan says:

    Congratulations, Father! And thanks for the remembrance.

    But aren’t you going to tell us how you received your ordination tambourine!?

  25. mysticalrose says:

    Congratulations, Father Z! My family will be praying for you today!

  26. lydia says:

    God Bless you Fr. Z and thank you for all you do for our Holy Church. Finding your blog and following so many of your posted links gives me hope for the future of our church in the US. Happy Anniversary.

  27. AnAmericanMother says:

    Happy anniversary and Ad multos annos.
    Our parochial vicar just celebrated his 15th anniversary yesterday – so yes, ’tis the season.

  28. iPadre says:

    Ad multos annos

  29. iPadre says:

    Ad multos annos!

  30. Supertradmum says:

    Happy Anniversary. Keep up the good work. Be perfect, as we need perfect priests, not merely good ones.

  31. Laura98 says:

    Many Blessings on your Ordination Anniversary! You’ve blessed an unknown number of souls through your vocation and your blog – and for that I offer my thanks and continued prayers. Congratulations!

  32. Disc-Thrower says:

    Ad multos annos!

  33. pookiesmom says:

    God bless you today on the 21st anniversary of your ordination, Father–we prayed for you at the 8:00am Mass today. May God continue to guide and bless you for the rest of your priestly ministry.

  34. bgfarmgirl says:

    Congratulations and many blessings on your anniversary day Father. I was fortunate to attend a retreat you gave at the Franciscan Retreat House in Prior Lake, MN several years ago. You suggested that we get the book “Handbook of Indulgences: Norms and Grants” which I enjoy.
    Thank you for your ministry.

  35. Mom2301 says:

    God bless you Father for all you do. You may be assured of my prayers for you at mass today.

  36. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Dear brother: Could you ever have imagined, on that great day, the plans which would unfold by the goodness of Divine Providence? The development of the internet, and your role in Catholic internet forums, blogs, etc? The many people you would meet and those whose lives would be completely changed (laity, seminarians, priests) from your teaching and preaching ministry? The beatification of the man who ordained you, and the accession to the Chair of Peter of Joseph Ratzinger?? The ministry of the FSSP, ICKP, Good Shepherd, Transalpine Redemptorists, and other wonderful priests in the restoration of the ancient liturgy? Summorum Pontificum? Looking back, it is too amazing and too wonderful to believe what has unfolded, and we could scarce believe it if we had not lived it and observed it with our own eyes. “Quid retribuam?” Oh, and I forgot, the wonderful happening of us meeting and enjoying these years of friendship. I’m certainly blessed as a priest by all you have done for the Church and the liturgy. I’m sure other priests feel the same. Deo gratias!

    [It is amazing to look back on the last 20 or so years and see the changes. Amazing. Thanks for the nice note! Solidarity!]

  37. Pax--tecum says:

    Congratulations, Father! Ad multos annos. I will pray for you; may the Lord grant you many, many more years. Thank you for guiding God’s people, thank you for offering the Sacrifice of the Mass, thank you for making available for us the sacraments and the teachings of the Church!

  38. Lynne says:

    As many others have said, happy anniversary and thank you so much for answering the call. You’ve saved (and continue to save) so many souls. :-)

  39. robtbrown says:

    Auguri e cent’anni.

    I once met Cardinal Mayer on a flight back to Rome. A very nice gentleman. When I mentioned that I knew you, he said he referred to you as Our John.

  40. Cantate says:

    Congratulations, Father Zuhlsdorf! Thank you for all that you do, and for sharing this video with us. May God grant you many more years in his service. You are a great blessing to the Church. Prayers for you!

  41. wmeyer says:

    Happy anniversary and Ad multos annos!

    Thank you for your endless service, and for clearing away the muck with your translations.

  42. Ad Multos Annos and Thank you!

  43. Acanthaster says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father Z! Thank you, as well, for all you do! You are being prayed for from Minnesota!

  44. trespinos says:

    Tante grazie, Fr. Z! I will try harder to remember your intentions at each and every Wednesday Adoration. Oremus pro invicem.

  45. Joan M says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father Z.

    I will be flying to Gatwick on June 11th – arriving on June 12th – to visit my brother. June 12th is his 57th Ordination Anniversary. I remember his ordination in All Hallows, Dublin (unfortunately, no longer a Seminary). I was 12 years old and sat with my mother and a sister close to where the 33 deacons lay prostrate. It is one of my strongest childhood memories. Another strong memory is that of sitting very, very quietly watching my mother and two sisters (8 and 12 years older than me) preparing all the clothing my brother would be taking with him to the seminary. I was five years old and quite forgotten by the others as they concentrated on the job at hand – I knew enough to be totally silent while all this was going on. It was 10 pm when they realized that the “baby” was still up!!

    I am so looking forward to spending some time with my big brother, who I love dearly.

  46. marcpuckett says:

    Many thanks, Father, for all the good work you do, and your inspiring example on the Internet. While respecting the necessities of charity and reasonableness, you aren’t afraid to be direct and peremptory when the occasion calls for it. (While I know you hate even the thought, I’d love to be able to add you to the list of intentions at, ahem, Rosary for the Bishop….) Ad multos annos!

  47. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Congratulations and thank you very much for your service to the Church. May God grant you many more.
    John in Pomeroy
    p.s. I’d never have thought of Bubble wrap as an ordination anniversary present, but use them in good health!

  48. happyhockeymom says:

    You share an ordination anniversary with Father Sirico and my parish pastor Father James Richardson, both a part of the Oratory of St Phillip Neri!

    Today is a big day at our parish. The Fathers are celebrating the anniversary of their ordinationas well as the feast of St Phillip Neri with sung vespers after the 5 o’clock Mass and a parish supper – on the house as they said – to discuss the future of Sacred Heart Parish. I am so looking forward to it and will pray for you while I am there.

    Happy Anniversary Father and thank for the blog!

  49. StJude says:

    Thank you Father, for all you do. Happy anniversary.

    That video gave me chills. Beautiful.

  50. RuralVirologist says:

    Congratulations, Fr Z!

  51. OrthodoxChick says:

    Happy ordinaversary, Fr. Z!
    May God continue to Bless you, your ministry, and your priesthood, all the days of your life.

  52. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father Z.! And I wish you many, many more!

  53. happyhockeymom says:


    I goofed. Fr Sirico had talked in a homily about his ordination this month which was on May 13th – the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Today was the patronal feast of the Oratory and for some reason I put them both together.

    I saw Fr. Sirico and was talking about how I thought today was his ordination anniversary was today and found out Father Z texted/e-mailed him about my comment on the blog, so I said I would come back and fix it! Sorry for the mistake Father Sirico!

    Still happy anniversary Father Z!

  54. Lurker 59 says:

    Congratulations and thank you so very much for the gift of your life and service to the Church.

  55. Catholictothecore says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father. We are all so blessed to know you via your blog. Thank you!

  56. UncleBlobb says:

    Yes, Happy anniversary Father Z.! Thank you so very much! Some day you will know.

  57. n1tr0narc says:

    Happy Anniversary!!! Thank you very much for being our online guardian angel… Keep the faith…

  58. MPSchneiderLC says:

    Ut deus tibi hodie benedicat!

  59. AA Cunningham says:

    Happy Anniversary Father.

    Many thanks for your fidelity to Christ and His Bride. The Church militant is blessed by your ministry.

    One minor correction:

    “Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta ”

    There is no “h” in Teresa.

  60. Marie Teresa says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father !
    And may God accept all my prayers and good works tooday for you and your intentions.
    You do so much for us. Thank you.

  61. Marie Teresa says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father!
    And may God accept all my prayers and good works today for you and your intentions.
    You do so much for us. Thank you.

  62. Marie Teresa says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father.
    And may God accept all my prayers and good works today for you and your intentions.
    You do so much for us. Thank you.

  63. Laura R. says:

    Thank you Father, for sharing your memories of that day — reading it all felt a bit like actually being there. Congratulations and very best wishes and blessings!

  64. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Happy anniversary, Father. May the Holy Spirit give you the grace to persevere all the way to the end of the race, and may we all have a meetup in heaven someday.

  65. MyBrokenFiat says:

    “To my shock, my boss the late and great Augustine Card. Mayer who had joined the recessional, came across the nave and, in the sight of the Roman Pontiff, knelt down and asked for my blessing. It was one of several startling lessons he gave me.”

    I seriously just choked back a tear.

    What a wise and blessed man. Sounds like you were very lucky to be taken under his wing. :)

    Congratulations, Father. May you always feel Our Lady’s smile shine upon you, and may you always have the Holy Spirit working through you. <3

  66. timelord says:

    Belated Anniversary Wishes, Fr. Z


    thank you for the excellent work you do online. a true DEFENSOR FIDEI

    Fraternally Yours in Christ
    Fr. T