LAKE CHARLES – The Most Reverend Glen John Provost ordained Reverend Jay Alexius and Reverend Ruben Villarreal to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lake Charles on Saturday, June 27, during Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Father Alexius celebrated his first Mass on Saturday, June 27, in Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Lake Charles, his adoptive parish, while Father Villarreal was the celebrant of his first Mass on Sunday, June 28, in his home parish of St. Lawrence in Raymond. Before the closing prayer of Saturday’s ordination liturgy, Deacon George Stearns, Diocesan Chancellor, read the announcement of first-time appointments for the newly ordained. The Bishop assigned Father Alexius as Parochial Vicar for St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church and as a member of the Advisory Board for Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana. Father Villarreal will return to Rome in the fall to continue his studies for a Licentiate in Canon Law. In addition, Bishop Provost assigned Father Villarreal to work in the Diocesan Tribunal this summer and next.
(Shown here, Bishop Provost, center, stands with the two newly-ordained, Father Ruben Villarreal (left) and Father Jay Alexius (rigjt), on the steps of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception following Mass on Saturday, June 27.)
As has been customary in the Diocese, Bishop Provost named the parents of the ordinands as Members of the Order of St. Charles, a personal recognition of the Bishop given to those who have provided services and contributions to the Church and the Bishop, in this case giving their sons to the priesthood. The Bishop presented the honor to Reverend Villarreal’s father, Ruben Villarreal, Sr. and his mother Lisa Fontenot, along with the father of Reverend Alexius, Jay Clement Alexius, Sr. The presentation occurred at the dinner on Friday night sponsored by the Serra Club of Lake Charles.
In opening his homily, presented to the new priests and to others attending the liturgy, Bishop Provost used the words of St. Paul in Second Corinthians (4:5), 'We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.’
The Bishop then said, “With these words St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that he is preaching the truth. God is his witness that he acts openly and truthfully. At the heart of this transparency is his desire to preach Jesus Christ, purely and simply. Only in this way can the light of Jesus Christ shine in all its brilliance. The reason the light can shine through his human frailties is because St. Paul has removed any obstacle of self. There is no pretense to veil the sunlight of Christ’s truth. Continuing the Bishop said, “St. Paul concludes, ‘We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us’. St. Paul never speaks in detail about his specific weaknesses. Even the exact meaning of his proverbial “thorn in the flesh” remains a mystery. Yet, we are never in doubt that St. Paul knows the sort of clay from which he is made and that in this self-knowledge the preaching of the Gospel becomes even more eloquent in his life.”
The Bishop spoke later about “speaking with authority and preaching the truth,” saying they “have nothing to do with arrogance. The true shepherd never lords anything over anyone, just as Jesus reminds His apostles in our Gospel reading. ‘Let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.’ Instead, the true shepherd allows the truth to speak for itself, in all humility and simplicity.
“Truth at the service of the Church—this is the mission of the priest,” the Bishop continued. “He is to know well what it is the he believes, for you cannot love what you do not know and you cannot give what you do not have.” In closing his words to the soon to be ordained men, Bishop Provost said, “Be good priests. Consider the rich treasure of Spirit that God bestows on you today. Cherish that gift, nurture it with prayer, share it with the faithful, let it shape your lives, and, in the words of St. Paul, ‘do not preach yourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.’”
The complete text of Bishop Provost's homily can be found on the website of the Diocese by clicking here.