Fr. Z’s 27th Anniversary of Ordination

Well… this is it.  I made it this far.  That’s what I say to myself when this date rolls around.

Booklet for the Mass

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, 27 years ago, by St. 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, 26 May, 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 ordinands 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.

You have not experienced the Litany of Saints until you have heard it sung by that many people in a space like that.

St. Theresa of Calcutta was there, just in front of where my folks sat.

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 few of them personally, since I had been at the Lateran University with them. I know that one fellow is now a bishop in 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 some Opus Dei guys ordained with us. Another was the sad, so very sad John Corapi of the SOLT group. One priest was ordained for the Archdiocese of Southwark in England. 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 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. I probably won’t get it until I die.

The sermon from the Mass. My old plugin doesn’t work for the videos, so I uploaded them to youtube.  The sermon is in Italian and the text is HERE.

I really miss him.

Here is some excerpts from the broadcast of the ordination, which was on national television in Italy.  We have the interrogation, litany and the prayer (form).

Imposition of 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. Gil Garza says:


  2. Spinmamma says:

    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to post all of that. It brought tears to my eyes.

  3. Amante de los Manuales says:

    Happy anniversary, Father!

  4. iPadre says:

    Ad multos annos! No greater gift could we have been given than to share in His priesthood. You are remembered in my prayers and Masses.

  5. MikeM221 says:

    May God bless you in a very special way today, Father. Happy anniversary!

  6. Andreas says:

    Many blessings and a hearty Navy ‘Bravo Zulu’ to you, Father Z., on this your anniversary!

  7. mater101 says:

    Thank you so very much for giving us an insight into your wonderful, wonderfilled memories of your ordination. A delightful gift, in addition to the other gift : which is your faith filled response to God’s invitation to be one of His special sons. We are doubly blessed on your Day of Blessings.! Congratulations

  8. Clinton R. says:

    Congratulations on your priestly anniversary, Father. Thank you so much for you concern for the state of our souls, especially reminding us to GO TO CONFESSION!. May God bless you and the Virgin Mary pray for you. May St. John Vianney pray for you and your brother priests. And May the Lord bless His Holy Church with more faithful men to His Priesthood. +JMJ+

  9. majuscule says:

    mater101 expressed my exact sentiments only more clearly than I could have!

  10. kat says:

    Happy Anniversary Father!
    May God continue to bless you and your apostolate.

    Prayers for you!

  11. LeeGilbert says:

    As multos annos, Padre! Thank you for saying yes when the Lord called you to become a priest, for making all the requisite sacrifices then and now, for all that you put into your priesthood.

  12. Sword40 says:

    May I add my Congratulations, and a hardy Semper Fidelis !

  13. stephen c says:

    Thanks Father Zuhlsdorf, for your years of service. You know this, I am sure, and most Christians whose life has been devoted to a vocation such as yours (priests, nuns, monks, and contemplatives without a precise vocation, but who pray unceasingly, or almost unceasingly) also probably know it, but it is worth repeating: The rest of us deeply appreciate what you all do.

    There is a 27 year stretch of time in which Mozart wrote everything from his opus One ( a not too bad vintage 1764 duo, written age 7/8, for violin and piano) to his last composition (a 1790/91 requiem: a very good one, maybe not the best ever written but still very good, and, at least in the Kyrie, angelically good, almost).

    Rafael Arnaiz Baron ( a Trappist saint beatified by Saint John Paul II, whom I miss too (but who although I miss him I can’t for a second wish he had lived a moment longer in this cold-hearted world, and I thank God that he did not live to see the wickedness that so many Irish voters, each one a child of God, have called down upon themselves just yesterday, when he would still be young enough to be a sprightly 98 year old, if God had so willed: such things have happened)), before heading to Heaven, lived 27 years, not a year more, not a year less.

    So, with much gratitude, thanks for all your work and all your prayers and kind-hearted service over what is actually a very long stretch of time (whether it seems like it to you or not) 27 years.

  14. poohbear says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary! Praying for many, many more.

  15. SanSan says:

    May God continue to bless you and keep you! Your instruction has been so valuable to my faith. Thank you Fr. Z.

  16. Fr_Andrew says:

    A relic you are, Father… or perhaps just an antiquity.

    2nd class?! You seem most days to be a first-class chap!

    Ad multos annos!

    Congratulations, and assurance of remembrance at Mass.

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