“With your ministry, you will act in His name. You are called to proclaim to everyone that God has not abandoned man, to bring a message of confidence and brotherhood to all those who face many evils afflicted on society, to be the words of consolation to all those who suffer injustice and grief. You are called to defend them in their rights, and to provide for them through the many works that the Congregation has developed over many years, which are already a fulfillment of the biblical passage we have heard today.”
- The ceremony took place in Rome, in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
- More than 3,000 people came out to accompany the new priests.
- Cardinal Bertello said, “I would like to start by thanking Father Eduardo for inviting me to preside over the rite of Ordinations of these brothers. I met your congregation many years ago, when I arrived as Papal Nuncio to Mexico and received many examples from your apostolic zeal, depth of your spiritual life, and your love for the Church. These moments make me feel even closer to you and urge me to take you in my prayers.”
Rome, December 16, 2017 – Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the President of the Governate of the Vatican City State as well as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, ordained 33 Legionaries of Christ to the priesthood in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. More than three thousand people attended the ceremony, including family members, friends, and companions and formators from the seminary. Father Eduardo Robles-Gil, LC, the General Director of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, presented the candidates for ordination.
In his homily, Cardinal Bertello said, “Dear ordinands, having invoked the intercession of the Virgin Mary and all the Saints, by the laying on of hands, and the ordination prayer you will receive the dignity of the priesthood to celebrate the mysteries of Christ, according to the tradition of the Church, especially in the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacrament of reconciliation, to the praise of God and the sanctification of the Christian people. You will then be transformed in him and your identification with Christ will reach such a depth that you will become a living tool of his work. Each ministry will be entrusted to you, you must always be a minister of Christ Jesus, as if your person disappears in front of his because he will work in you and through you. Don’t say, maybe the priest is an alter Christus and acts in persona Christi. This is the path to holiness which you must resume daily with humility, obedience and charity in order to make this your ministry, your work corresponds to your being. Brothers and sisters, those whom you will encounter, expect from you this testimony of life. Do not ever let your failings and the challenges of ministry discourage you. If you remain solicitous to the Lord in prayer and persevere in offering the compassion of Christ to your brothers and sisters, then the Lord will certainly fill your hearts with the comforting joy of his Holy Spirit (see Pope Francis, To the Priests and Religious of Bangladesh, O.R.3.12.17).
At the end of the ordination rite, I will give you the paten and the cup and I will tell you: Realize what you do, imitate what you celebrate, conform your life to the mystery of the Cross of Christ. This is the wish, which is transformed into prayer, which I formulate from the heart, in the name of everyone, to each one of you. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, take you by the hand and accompany you in every moment of your life, in your service to Jesus and to his Church.”
The rector of the International College of Legionaries of Christ in Rome, Father Christopher Brackett, LC, comments: “To see these brothers of mine ordained to the priesthood is, for me, as if God wanted to tell people they should not lose hope, that they are not alone, that his love is great and he will always give us pastors to take care of his people. It is beautiful to see the generosity of the men who were ordained. They have I was deeply moved to see them reach the altar and be transformed by the grace of God into ‘other Christs’.”
The rector of the theological community of the General Directorate, Father Ignacio Sarre, LC, comments: “Ordination is certainly a point of arrival, preceded by many years of formation, journeying and effort. That is why we feel great joy as well as gratitude: to God, from whom all good things come; to those ordained, for their generosity; to their relatives and to all those who have supported them. At the same time, ordination is a point of departure. It is the beginning of what they have prepared for. In that sense, the most important thing is that they continue to foster a continual and growing attitude of love and dedicated service, something we would call ‘ongoing formation.’ That is why I often repeat that they are not preparing ‘for ordination,’ which takes place once and soon passes away, but for a lifetime of dedication to ministry, as Legionaries of Christ.”
Father Eduardo Robles-Gil, LC, the General Director of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, comments: “For the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi it is an immense joy to be able to offer the Church 33 new priests. Through their priestly ministry they will collaborate to make the merciful love of God present in the hearts of people and in society, that same love that we contemplate next week in the mystery of Bethlehem, born out of love for all humanity.”
About 150 priests concelebrated at the ordination Mass. Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, Secretary for Seminaries of the Congregation for the Clergy, and Bishop Paolino Schiavon, retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rome, assisted in the Rite of the Anointing of Hands and the presentation of the chalice and paten to the newly ordained.
Who are the new priests?
The 33 new priests come from 11 countries: Italy (1), Slovakia (1), Brazil (5), Canada (1), El Salvador (2), Venezuela (3), Spain (1), Colombia (1), Mexico (13), the Philippines (1) and the United States (4). All of them obtained their degrees in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. The time of study and preparation also included a period of pastoral internship, in the field of education, missions, youth work, family ministry or formation of high school seminarians.
Among the new priests is Father John Klein, LC, from the United States, who studied music production at Middle Tennessee State University and has put out two albums, Love is Brave and Fearless. Father Leonardo Pérez-Castilla, from Venezuela, who studied four years of Economics at the Andrés Bello Catholic University before joining the Legion of Christ.
Father Miguel Subirachs. LC, of Spain, comments: “From the time I was little I wanted to be a missionary. I was particularly struck when volunteers or missionaries came to the school and spoke of their experiences. I dreamed of doing something great for others. The call of Jesus, ‘Come and follow me!’ has resounded down through the centuries and continues to resonate in the lives of many young people. It is a call to live life to the fullest, closer to him and configured with him. Being a priest is not something natural, it is supernatural. We should not try to understand it perfectly because it is a question of Love.”
Father Stefano Panizzolo, LC, an Italian, entered the Legion of Christ after obtaining his degree in architecture in Venice. Father Michael Baggot, from the United States, was an agnostic who was baptized, confirmed and received his First Communion in the Catholic Church in 2003 at the Easter Vigil.
Father Antonio Lemos, LC, originally from Brazil, studied law at the Federal University of Paraná for four years. Father Manuel Cervantes, a Mexican, spent a year as Regnum Christi Mission Corps volunteer in Padua, Italy, before joining the Legion of Christ.
Father Luis Lorenzo, LC, is the first Legionary priest from the Philippines.
The stories of the new priests can be found on the website for the priestly ordinations 2017.