Configured to Christ


Recently a friend asked me to identify the best thing about my first year as the Bishop of Providence. I responded by saying “the priests!” last week in describing the purpose and work of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I spoke of the bishop’s role to sanctify, teach and govern. For that sacred calling, the Lord provides “co-workers,” the priests, who are “configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the Priesthood of the Bishops” (from The Roman Pontifical, ordination of priests). I have a special bond with my brother priests. They are my closest collaborators in ministry and essential to the life of the Church in Rhode Island. On a more personal note, I feel blessed to share in the mission with these good men. As I have travelled from parish to parish, I have seen their priestly ministry firsthand and I find myself uplifted by their example and challenged to strive ever more purposefully in my own mission.
This weekend, I will have the great privilege of ordaining two new priests of the Diocese of Providence, Father Joseph Brodeur and Father Jairon Olmos. Each of these men has excelled in their formation programs. They are prayerful, joyful, and devoted to God’s people. They are a great gift to the Diocese and to me. Having reviewed the recommendations of their formators and engaged with each of them personally, I am very struck by the way in which their priestly call has already shaped them. They came to formation as good men, nurtured in the faith by loving families, faithful friends, and parish priests. Their configuration to Christ has been underway for a long time and it will be the greatest joy to see the Lord draw them to His heart in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. May God who has begun this good work in them, bring it to completion!
They will embrace a life of priestly service that brings many graces. I can certainly attest, along with so many of my brother priests, to the gift it is to walk with the people of God in their journey of faith. If I were transported back to the day of my ordination, I would do it all again. I do not always understand God’s ways, but I do know that the Lord has called me and given me a share in his work. Of course, that share brings with it the truth of the cross. Our two new priests will face many challenges and they will suffer with and for the Lord. I cannot help but feel that the challenges arrayed against them are all the more intense in our day and in this culture. Many will not understand their call, others will reject their teaching, still others will hate them. They will need prayers and they will need the company of good and faithful Catholic families. As priests are linked to the Bishop, so we all are linked in the communion of the Church. When we live our vocations authentically, ordained, religious, and lay faithful, the Spirit brings us mutual support and encouragement.
Please consider joining us for the ordination. Whether you can be present or not, please pray for these new priests, and for all of the priests of the Diocese. Father Brodeur and Father Olmos, may you be ever more closely configured to Christ, and may the Word of God fill your hearts so that you might: “believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
Priesthood ordinations will take place on Saturday, June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence at 10 a.m.