Ordination Anniversary (video)

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, 23 years ago, by now-Saint John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica.  I suppose that might make me a 2nd class relic.

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 near the Pietà, 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 (in front of where my folks sat) because a couple men were being ordained for the male component of the Missionaries. That group never really got traction. 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, I think. It would be great to meet with him during some trip. I reached out to a few some years ago and got a few responses. I may try again for our 25th, 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. I probably won’t get it until I die.

Here is an excerpt from the broadcast of the ordination, the moment of the essential laying of on hands:


Anecdote: After our ordination we lined up, new priests on one side of the side nave, all the cardinals and various prelates on the other. 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 front of the Roman Pontiff, knelt down and asked for my blessing. It was one of several startling lessons Card. Mayer gave me.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wanda says:

    Happy Anniversary, Fr. Z. May God bless you and protect you always. Thank you for the hard work you do for the flock and for Holy Mother Church. I’ve never heard, read or learned so much about our beautiful Catholic faith as I have from your blog. Thank you.

  2. danhorse says:

    Thank-you for your vocation, Fr. Z! I will remember you at Adoration today and ask Jesus to bless you in a special way on this, the anniversary of your ordination. Thanks for all you do! I look forward to reading your blog daily and have learned so much and laughed alot too! God bless you, Father.

  3. Liz says:

    This is so beautiful, Father! Thank you for sharing it and all of the details!

  4. Mike says:

    Hmm. I wonder if Fr. Greg Coyne was among your group getting ordained. He’s a wonferful priest of Opus Dei, and rarely fails to say “Go to Confession!” in a homily!

  5. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Wonderful, Father. A happy anniversary to you, and ad multos annos! :)

  6. Geoffrey says:

    Ad multos annos!

  7. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Ditto Geoffrey. I’ll go one better:

    Ad multos et faustissimos annos!

  8. Robbie says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary and thank you for all of the work you do.

  9. Kathleen10 says:

    Ad multos annos! I believe this means “Happy Anniversary!”. Thank you for the description of your very memorable day. It is impressive just to read about it. Thank you also for the sacrifices you make as a priest, and for all you do.
    You may feel about your grandmother becoming a Catholic in her 80’s as I do about my Mom becoming a Catholic in her 70’s. I was my Mom’s sponsor, and it always gives me such great consolation to know if not for that day my Mom would surely have passed from this life without benefit of baptism, because her family were all Protestants who don’t baptize infants, but her mother died when she was six and the family fell apart. Nobody cared after that if she was baptized, so, she wasn’t. What real happiness it gives me to know she passed with full benefit of being baptized and making what confession she could, only a few months before she went home to God. A priest made that possible.
    It’s a tiny thing, but in honor of your anniversary I will buy some socks for the troops! Thank you and God bless you Fr. Z.!

  10. Priam1184 says:

    Thanks Father for all that you do, and thanks to all of your brother priests who sweat and bleed in our service and in the service of the Lord our God.

  11. Bea says:

    Happy, Happy Anniversary , Father.
    Thank you for answering The Call.
    May God Bless you and continue to Bless you all the days of your life.
    Thank you for the work and blessings and wisdom that you bring to us, lay people.

    What a kind and humble prelate Cardinal Mayer was.
    I wrote to him when he was in charge of Ecclesia Dei many, many years ago.
    And in his kindness He wrote in reply.
    I simply wanted to express my opinion on what transpired in our parish, and was not expecting a reply, but he did. How fortunate you were to work with him.

    [It is possible that I wrote the reply at his direction.]

  12. Legisperitus says:

    Happy anniversary, Father, and don’t forget to give that old tambourine a shake!

    [Oh… right. Where is that thing?]

  13. benedetta says:

    Ad multos annos, Father!

  14. yatzer says:

    Congratulations, thank you, and God bless you.

  15. excalibur says:

    Again, Happy Anniversary Father Zuhlsdorf. So it is March May 26 as I said yesterday. LOL

    I pray for Fr. Corapi daily; once a priest, always a priest.. I have been an attender of this blog a long while, and for that I am doubly grateful especially on this day.


  16. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    Happy anniversary of priestly ordination, Fr. Z. May the eternal High Priest see fit to grant you many more years in His service to the Church Militant.

  17. Rachel K says:

    Many congratulations Father! And thank you for all you do in service to us. I will pray for Fr Corapi and for all those who have fallen by the wayside in their priesthood.

  18. Incaelo says:

    Congratulations, Father! Thank you for being a priest and teacher. I have learned a lot from your blog, and I hope I will continue to do so for many more years.

    I am surprised that you’re ordination class produced only one bishop (Msgr. Pierre-André Dumas of the rather wonderfully named Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne in Haïti, if I am not mistaken) in 23 years…

  19. Mike says:

    Happy anniversary, Father. Thank you for your priestly service.

  20. Former Altar Boy says:

    Thank you for saying “yes” to your vocation, Father. Happy anniversary!

  21. Bea says:

    Wow, Fr. Z. If it was you (under his direction), It (the letter that I received in reply ) has double the value. You were ordained 23 years ago, but the letter was written 25 years ago. Perhaps as a seminarian you worked under him?
    His reply is dated the 15th of April, 1989, signed by him and stated that my letter had been received on March 29, 1989. File # 525/89.
    I wish he were alive today so I could thank him for his prayers and good wishes (as stated in the letter). If he could only see how his prayers and good wishes were answered. May 23 has a special meaning for the brother of whom the letter was principally about. I will convey the meaning of that date to that person.
    God in His Wonders, works great Wonders and “Co0incidences”.
    Augustin Cardinal Mayer O.S.B./ May 23, 1911/April 30, 2010 RIP

  22. benedetta says:

    St. Philip Neri, really Father? How interesting! The saint of joy! Intriguing his devotion to the sacrament of confession, combined with the need for joy, during a time of libertinism in Rome. I myself have been much comforted by the sacrament, as well as the joy of the Gospel, at key moments in my life. I comprehend the connection much better nowadays than when I was younger.

    I will say at some point after a relocation I surprisingly found the saint’s calling card, as it were, a memento, of his presence, I guess, and not something I in fact had ever owned personally, in a very awkward and surprisingly strange location in my home, shortly after it was broken into. I gathered I was meant to stumble upon it. Many other strange things, sometimes quite harrowing, have happened since then. San Filippo Neri, ora pro nobis.

  23. MouseTemplar says:

    Best to quote Our Lord here: “Well done, good and faithful servant””.

    I will add that I pray the Holy Spirit grants you true joy in your vocation the coming years.

  24. Sonshine135 says:

    Congratulations Father Z. On the anniversary of your Ordination.

    I miss Father John Corapi. I never understood the whole business around what he did or what happened to him. I simply know that much like you, he was one of those Priests that I felt really understood the faith, and he drew me into a closer relationship with Christ.

  25. Father, how wonderful – I’m so happy for you!

    And yes, you are a second-class relic, but that’s the only thing about you that’s second-class. Thank you for answering God’s call with courage and faith, and for perservering. I hope you always do so. Many prayers for you!

  26. off2 says:

    Many Years, Father!

    I’ve enjoyed reading wdtprs for years. Thank you.

  27. NoraLee9 says:

    Congratulations Father Z! You rock. I assume that is your picture there with Pope St. JP2. How handsome!

  28. Mariana2 says:

    Happy anniversary, Father! May God bless you indeed!

    My mother, a Lutheran, has in fact shaken hands with Saint John Paul, does that make her, too, a second class relic : ) ? She was violently opposed to my becoming a Catholic, so it is with a certain Schadenfreude that I note her new exalted status!

  29. JonPatrick says:

    Happy Anniversary Father! God bless you and your work and all those that keep the authentic Catholic faith alive in these dark times for the Church.

  30. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    A blessed anniversary to you and all those ordained that day.

  31. kat says:

    What nice memories, Father.
    God bless you today and always. Happy anniversary!
    Your work on the net is quite unique. May God bless it and help you always do it well.
    Prayers for you.


  32. KGH says:

    Happy Anniversary, Fr. Z. You are a blessing to us! Thank you for all that you do.

  33. HoodooKnight says:

    Fr. Z,
    Thank you for everything. May God continue to bless you so you have the strength to give of yourself as Jesus did. I thank God for for the laborer in his vinyard that you are.

    P.S. Also happy you approved my registration.

  34. MaryW says:

    Father, Happy anniversary (a tad belated)! You and all priests are in my daily prayers. Also, praying for Father Corapi.

  35. TNCath says:

    So wonderful to hear that your grandmother converted in her 80’s! This gives me hope that someday my family members who are cradle Catholics will someday return to the Faith.

  36. frjim4321 says:


    I was very sorry to see my impression of the SOLT man validated. A very sad situation for all.

    No reason to cast a pall on an otherwise happy time.

  37. cl00bie says:

    God doesn’t choose men who are worthy. He chooses those whom it pleases Him to choose.


    The deacon formation committee of the diocese of Syracuse has recommended me to Bishop Cunningham to begin formation in the fall. Slated to be ordained in 2018. The above quote makes me smile. :)

  38. Per Signum Crucis says:

    Indeed, ad multos annos and my very best wishes for your work in the vineyard of The Lord. Anniversaries like this prompt me to ask two questions which might inspire some ‘Wherein Fr.Z opines’ response:

    In the 23 years, what has changed for the good and for the bad during your priesthood?

    There is one very obvious good happening you would mention so, as a follow-up, were it Pope Philip or Pope John-Paul-Benedict (OK, I’m struggling to think of what name you might take if ever elected to the papacy but those seem valid candidates…) who had introduced Summorum Pontificum, what would you have done differently? This is more challenging than it seems as I am sure you will observe if you were ever able to answer without ruffling any feathers!!

    [I, inspired by my friend the great Roman Fabrizio, would be sore tempted to take the name Pope Clement Ganganelli, just to send a hint of what was to come. Otherwise, Pius XIII? Pius XII²? Benedict XVII.. perhaps too many syllables. I doubt I could get away with Sixtus VI.]

  39. Uxixu says:

    Congratulations, Father. Thank you for answering the call to your vocation and for all that you do, including this blog.

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