26 May 1991: 30th anniversary of ordination

Booklet for the Mass

When this date rolls around, I usually say to myself:

“Well… I made it this far.”

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, 30 years ago, by St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica.  That might make me a 2nd class relic.

Within a couple days, we hit 100,000,000 visits at this blog and 30 years hit me.  That’s not all that has hit me lately, but that’s another story.

On 26 May 1991 it was the Feast of St. Philip Neri, 26 May and also Trinity Sunday.  It was a perfect Roman May 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.  St. Theresa of Calcutta was there, just in front of where my folks sat.

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, probably some 50k.

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

I 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.

It was the first year that the Iron Curtain was raised a bit.  A few men were permitted out Romania to come to Rome to be ordained by the Pope. There were some Opus Dei guys ordained with us.  Another of the group was John Corapi of the SOLT group, though I didn’t know him at the time. Pray for him.  One priest was ordained for the Archdiocese of Southwark in England. I know that one fellow is now a bishop in Haiti.

This day, especially when I review some of these videos and think about what has happened between then and now, underscores the fact that God doesn’t choose men who are worthy. He chooses those whom it pleases Him to choose.

The sermon from the Mass. The sermon is in Italian and the text is HERE.

I really miss him.

Here are 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.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Congratulations, Father! Thanks for all you do.

  2. Irish Timothy says:

    Congratulations and thank you once again Father Z! Thank you this blog, the reminders to GO TO CONFESSION and most of all thank you for saying yes to God’s call. I pray you have another 30 years and then some as a priest and continue to save souls.

  3. jz says:

    God bless you Father. Praying for you this ember day that your own soul and the souls of many in your care will find salvation through your priestly ministry.

  4. mamajen says:

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

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for your priestly service. Ad multos annos.

  6. Lurker 59 says:

    Happy 30th Anniversary, Father Z. Truly you are a father to a great multitude. May it please the Lord to continue to save souls through your sacredotal ministry for a great many more years to come.

  7. Aliquis says:

    Happy anniversary and thank you for your good work.

  8. Uxixu says:

    Ad multos annos! May God great you many blessed years. Axios!

  9. InFormationDiakonia says:

    Happy anniversary Father Z. What a privilege to be ordained by a future (and now) saint! May your ministry continue for many more years.

  10. mother undercover says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father! May God continue to bless your vocation.

  11. JTH says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father. Thank you for your ministry.

  12. s i says:

    Congratulations Father Z. Praying for you each day.

  13. PostCatholic says:

    Ad multos annos! Some days always stay so vivid in our minds, don’t they? Thanks for sharing your memories.

  14. Ariseyedead says:

    Happy Anniversary on your priestly ordination, Father!

    30 years. Wow! I wonder what percentage of living, Latin rite priests have been ordained 30 years or more?

  15. jaykay says:

    Congratulations, Father, and sincere thanks for the great treasure that you have given us in your blog for lo these many years.

  16. Paul says:

    Happy Anniversary Father.

    Pray for you daily.

    God Bless you.

  17. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    Ad multos annos, Pater.

  18. Gab says:

    May God bless you and the Holy Virgin Mother protect you, Father. Happy anniversary. Tu es sacerdos in aeternum.

  19. I don’t want to take up too much space here, but wanted to chip in my sentiments — AD MULTOS ANNOS! http://casasantalidia.blogspot.com/2021/05/father-zuhlsdorf-ad-multos-annos.html

  20. mo7 says:

    I am grateful for your ministry, enthusiasm and steadfastness from which I’ve learned a lot. May Our Lord give you many more years of cheerful service.

  21. Kathleen10 says:

    Congratulations, Fr. Z. You know what they say, the first 30 are the hardest.
    They don’t say that, but it’s been quite a year. With years come wisdom from experience, some of it wonderful, some, not. Either way God is with us, and He couldn’t be any closer than to his faithful priests. Our Lady as well, we know she holds priests close to her heart in a special way. That photo is a very remarkable image. Very powerful even if we didn’t know who it was. Ad multos annos! You have given us so much. God bless you and thank you.

  22. UulieJay709 says:

    Congratulations, Father Z! Thank you!

  23. Diane says:

    Happy Anniversary Father Z and Congratulations on 30 years of serving our Lord and all of us. We appreciate you and all you do soooooooo much! God Bless You.

  24. JonPatrick says:

    Happy Anniversary Father! Thank you for all your years of ministry.

  25. JonPatrick says:

    Happy Anniversary Father! Thank you for all your years of ministry.

  26. Skeinster says:

    “underscores the fact that God doesn’t choose men who are worthy. He chooses those whom it pleases Him to choose.”

    This reminds me, in “In This House of Brede”, of a Dame being interviewed on
    vocations: “Were you surprised, at God calling you?”
    ‘Yes, but not so surprised as that he had called some of the others. But then, God’s not as fastidious as we are.”

    Congratulations, dear Father! Many thanks for all you do for your fellow Catholics. Ad multos annos!

  27. acardnal says:

    Multos annos, Father Z! Your apostolate is needed now more than ever. May God bless you.

  28. RosaryRose says:

    Happy anniversary Father!

  29. 30 years? Deo gratias.

    The journey in His name was before you at that moment you were configured to Him and felt the touch of St. JP-II’s hands on your head…and who would have thought the places you would go and the effect you would have? 100,000,000 visits here? Tomes of straightforward and clear catechesis? A worldwide audience? And a ham radio network, to boot?

    God bless you, Fr. Z. It is a privilege to be able to participate here, and, if notions of the reach of one’s words based on degrees of connectivity are true, your virtual congregation is probably a significant percentage of the world’s Catholic population, not to mention beyond. And all that because of your “yes” to his call. From such small things come such great knock-on effects.

    May Our Lady continue to hold you close as you faithfully serve Her Son. Ad multos annos.

  30. adriennep says:

    What is the Latin for: May you always be so Holy and skinny?

    I cried just hearing his voice at the sermon. Pre-Parkinson’s, pre-scandals. It was the Litany of the Saints at his funeral which lifted me into the Church. May our reunion in Heaven be just the beginning.

  31. Sol says:

    Plurimos annos, Father! Your post has reminded me of my former fellow-seminarians. I left the seminary of my own accord exactly 15 years ago after an almost full year as a novice. Every year around May 4th I go back to that fateful decision, wondering what might have been if I had stayed and also wondering what has happened to the other 9 novices who were still there. I know that at least three are now professed, two as priests and one as a friar. Two of these work as missionaries in Cuba, one is a priest in my homeland. He had joined us from the diocesan seminary which he had left in his 4th year, just before graduating with a Master in theology, which he defended while already with us. As an 18 year old, fresh out of high school guy, it was very edifying for me to have a 35 year old fellow novice. Another one has been the vocations director in our American province in in Philadelphia, PA, and is currently the spiritual director of our novices (at the age of 35, but knowing him, I am not surprised)

    I have never been back in touch with any of my erstwhile brethren – I live thousands of miles away and in an altogether different world, so to speak. But I am hoping that maybe, one day we will have the chance to meet again. Now, 15 years later and in my mid-30s, I look with fondness at those 10 months in the quiet solitude of the novitiate and I think with gratitude about my fellow novices and the priests responsible for our formation while we were there – all of them sound Catholic priests.

    All the best for your Anniversary! God bless you.

  32. anthtan says:

    Congratulations, Fr. Z, on the 30th anniversary of your ordination!

    May the Lord and His Holy Mother always bless and protect you in your ministry!

  33. Anne C. says:

    Congratulations, Father!!! (I just read this today, 4 days late . . .)

    I knew when we had you here in Crystal for one short year that you were destined for greater things! You have been through much, but God has used you to touch so many!!!

    I pray for you and your special intention daily. May God continue to richly bless you, and may our prayers be ever mutual! ?

    [Thank you for the prayers. And I think I was there for longer than that. Time flies.]

  34. Anne C. says:

    That question mark was supposed to be praying hands! ;)

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