“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!