Father Joseph M. Brodeur and Father Jairon G. Olmos Rivera ordained priests by Bishop Richard G. Henning


PROVIDENCE — It was an overwhelming experience for all involved. Immediately following their ordination, Father Joseph Brodeur and Father Jairon Olmos Rivera greeted a long line of local faithful in the cathedral hall. Every interaction was accompanied by smiles and a warm embrace, before the newly ordained priests bestow their first blessings. The emotions felt by the newly ordained priests could hardly be put into words.

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“It feels wonderful,” said Father Olmos Rivera. “Glory to God.”
“It’s surreal,” Father Brodeur added, repeating a sentiment that he had expressed to many others in the lead-up to his ordination.
Father Brodeur and Father Olmos Rivera were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Richard G. Henning on Saturday, June 29. During the rite, they were surrounded by family and friends who found themselves in the same spiritual and emotional state as the two ordinands.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Peter Brodeur, Father Brodeur’s father.
“Building up to this day, it’s just like one nerve after another,” said Lora, Father Brodeur’s mother. “It’s beyond words. As a parent, as a mom, you’re just handing him over. There’s a lot of conflicting emotions. But, at this point, he’s where he’s meant to be,” she continued, describing her reaction to seeing her son receive ordination to the priesthood.
These emotions were coupled with an understanding of the spiritual depth of the occasion.
“This mystery is also the mystery of the Church itself,” said Bishop Henning in his homily, noting how the nature of the priesthood reflects certain elements of the nature of the Church.
“The world looks upon us, and very often misunderstands us. It sees institutions, bureaucracy. It imagines that the life of faith is a club for people who agree on this or that. But you know better. You know that we are not a corporation, we are a communion. We are a family of faith called to the Heart of Christ.” “In a very real sense, God gives us as a gift, one to another,” Bishop Henning continued. “Once ordained a priest, you will serve the people of God, and you will find in them a gift of the Lord.”
The reality that the priesthood reflects the nature of the Church as communion was something pointed out in many subtle ways throughout the day.
During the Mass, Bishop Henning wore the episcopal ring of Bishop Thomas F. Hendricken, the founding bishop of the Diocese of Providence, and carried the crozier of Bishop William A. Hickey, the third bishop of the Diocese of Providence.
In addition, Bishop Henning wore the pectoral cross of Bishop Russell J. McVinney, who severed as bishop from 1947 to 1971. Bishop Henning earlier that day also wore the pectoral cross of Bishop Robert Mulvee, who served as bishop from 1997 to 2005.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, under whose leadership both newly ordained entered formation for the priesthood, concelebrated the Mass.
Since the ordination fell on the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul, the principal patrons of the Diocese of Providence, in addition to Our Lady of Providence, Bishop Henning ended Mass by blessing those present with relics of the saints.
These gestures underscored the reality that priestly vocations are fostered by family life and by life in the Church, the Body of Christ, whose members, the People of God, are united in communion. The newly ordained priests will carry on that mission as they serve the Church as members of the same body.
Many of those present were acutely aware of the spiritual and emotional gravity of the day’s events.
“I felt overwhelmed, and joy, because it’s a desire, a dream that he has always had, and it finally has been brought to fruition,” said Francisco Serrano, a Franciscan friar who spent much time with Father Jairon when he first arrived in the United States.
“He always kept a smile of joy [throughout the ordination]. He had gratitude.”
“I’ve known Joe for about seven years. I’ve known Jairon since we moved into St. John’s [seminary] the same day. So, it’s very special to see both of these guys [become priests], brothers in the Lord, and now fathers,” said seminarian Nicholas Jones Second Theology, St. John’s Seminary.
“There are the words that I’ve learned from going to various ordinations, the essential words of the ordination, when the bishop says these words, they’re priests. Looking at them as he’s saying them, and all of a sudden, at the snap of a finger, they’re priests.”
The ordination was of particular significance for the Spanish-speaking community in Rhode Island.
Father Jairon is the first priest born in the Dominican Republic to be ordained for the Diocese of Providence, and many view his ordination as a way of facilitating the diocese’s ministry to the quickly growing Spanish-speaking Catholic community in Rhode Island.
“Since I speak Spanish, I love to see new priests who can also speak Spanish, because our community is so big,” said Ibeth Dealencar, a parishioner of St. Patrick Parish in Providence.
Dealencar was taken aback by not only the broader social implications of the ordination, but also the spiritual significance of the Rite of Ordination.
“The humility, to see them on the floor while we were praying the Litany of the Saints. In my mind, I was seeing St. Francis of Assisi, it made me think of [that type of] humility,” Dealencar continued.
“I feel blessed. It’s a blessing for the Dominican community,” said Anlly Frias, a parishioner of St. Michael’s Parish in Providence and a close friend of Father Olmos Rivera.
“We can see the grace of the Almighty, because before, he was just Jairon, and now, it’s Father Jairon. It’s a miracle. I can kiss his hand and say, ‘You bring me Jesus. Now you bring me Jesus with your hand.’”
“It’s truly incredible to see that process,” said Juan Perez, a parishioner from St. Michael’s.
The son of Deacon Juan Perez, he was introduced to the future priest when he first came to Rhode Island, and was given the opportunity to be closely involved in Father Jairon’s spiritual journey to the priesthood. “When [Jairon] became a deacon this past year, that was a grace,” added Perez.