Fr. Z’s 28th Anniversary of Ordination: St. Philip plays a prank.

Booklet for the Mass

“Well… I made it this far.”

That’s what I say to myself when this date rolls around.

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, 28 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.   Today, in Rome, we have solid gray and rain.

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.


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. 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.

This morning, Mass at the altar of St. Philip in the Church where he founded the confraternity to take care of pilgrims, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini.


This morning, I celebrated Mass as described.   Because that church has a special relationship with “Pippo Bono” even though it is a Sunday I could use the proper for the saint, adding prayers “Pro Seipso Sacerdote” and with the proper Gospel from Sunday as the Last Gospel instead of the beginning of the Gospel of John.

The church was busy during Mass.  It seems that the parish has awakened a bit and Sunday activity has increased.  There were groups of kids being chaperoned to different places for catechism.  One group, older kids, went off with The Great Roman™.  Another group – the really little ones – was kept in church where they sang the Ave Maria in Latin again… and again… and again… and again… and again….  No, no.  It wasn’t the least distracting for me or my server.   Not at all.

The amusing aspect is this chaos revolving around us.  Last night at supper one of the priests suggested coming at the time we did for Mass because the church would be quieter.    I think he really meant it, but…. HA!

St. Philip was a great prankster in life.   It seems he is still a prankster in death.

Thanks, “Pippo”.   Another lesson on my ordination day!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Happy Anniversary!!!

  2. UncleBlobb says:

    Happy anniversary, Father Z.!

  3. SanSan says:

    Happy Anniversary Father Z!! My husband and I just finished watching the movie about St. Phillip Neri. Pramiso (sp? I think I have that right?) :) Love him and you.

  4. dmcheney says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    One of the others ordained that day is Abp Tymon Tytus Chmielecki, Apostolic Nuncio to Guinea. He was just consecrated bishop 2 weeks ago in St. Peter’s.

    Another is Bp Pierre-André Dumas, Bishop of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne, Haïti.

  5. benedetta says:

    Ad multos annos!

  6. Sue in soCal says:

    God bless you, Fr. Z, on this special day! I will offer my Mass, Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and this day for you, your vocation, and your holy journey.

  7. Jerome Avila says:

    Happy Anniversary, Fr. Z.

    You mentioned Fr. Corapi – just curious, do you think that Fr. Corapi was treated fairly? It was/is a sad case. I (and likely many others) studied his case closely. He maintained his innocence. I believe he was innocent.

    The “fact finding team” used against him claimed that the evidence they found was emails and text messages. But, numerous entities, particularly government entities (that was in 2011-ish, during the height of the Obamayears), could have produced fake emails and fake text messages to set him up.

    At that time, Fr. Corapi (once a priest, always a priest) was heavily criticizing socialism, the Democrat party, homosexuality, abortion, contraception, and Democrat politicians.

    And, then also consider what a certain government entity did to Martin Luther King Jr. Would that government entity, run by Obama-types, do that to Fr. Corapi if they had the chance?

    And, also consider what certain government entities did/attempted to do to President Trump.

    Fr. Corapi was the most influential Catholic in America. He was one of the staunchest anti-Democrat-party individuals in America, too. Things still don’t add up.

    Fr. Corapi, if you are out there, please try to get back into public ministry; if you don’t have the energy to continue public speaking, then at least try to get back into ministry for the simple reason to get your recordings back on the airwaves. The Catechism series alone could save thousands of souls.

    [I don’t know. I pray for him. It makes me sad. But his clean return would be… magnificent.]

  8. Gaetano says:

    Of all the crosses we can endure, the chaos of a busy, lively parish (however distracting) must surely be among the lightest.

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    God bless you Fr. Z and Happy Anniversary.

  10. HighMass says:

    Happy Anniversary!
    Such happy days in the church, and for all of you who were may priest!

  11. teomatteo says:

    “I suppose that might make me a 2nd class relic.”
    Maybe so, but not a monsignor!
    Many blessing to you Father Zuhlsdorf.

  12. Diana says:

    WOW! What a great story! Happiest of anniversaries, Father! May God bring you many more years. And thank you for saying YES and for everything you’ve done for us and the Church during your time as a priest. We are all blessed because of it.

  13. iPadre says:

    Ad multos annos Pater!

  14. Ad multos annos, Father Z!

  15. pattif says:

    Ad multos annos, Father!

  16. jaykay says:

    “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.”

    Absolutely beautiful! God bless, Father, and thank you for everything.

  17. DanW says:

    Happy Anniversary Father!

  18. AZ Joe says:

    I was there! Your post brings back some very happy memories, Fr. Z! We were probably sitting in the same area as your grandmother. We received Holy Communion from St. John Paul II (of blessed memory) as well. My brother was being ordained. He is now a happy faithful missionary priest in Central America. Happy Anniversary to you both!

  19. Gab says:

    A blessed anniversary, Father and Thank You for answering God’s call.

  20. Chuck4247 says:

    Father, do priests have a special blessing that they may use on the anniversary of their ordination which is in any way similar to the blessing at their first Mass?

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