WASHINGTON, D.C. – Robert Paul Boxie III, a Lake Charles native, graduate of St. Louis Catholic High School, and former parishioner of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church was one of eight men ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC on Saturday, June 25.
In a celebration that can be traced back to the Apostles, the eight were ordained for ministry in the Catholic Church today by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington.
“What we are doing places us before a profound mystery of faith,” Cardinal Wuerl said in his homily. Reflecting on the meaning of the ordination, he said it is “an invitation to enter into the spiritual reality of God’s saving presence with us. Thus we use the ritual, symbols and signs to help us encounter with our senses what we can really only experience with the eyes of faith.”
In addition to Father Boxie, Cardinal Wuerl ordained Jonathan Berard, Alberto Biondi, Keith Burney, Philip Ilg, Ryan Islo Pineda, Jonathan Santiago Vanegas-Calderon and Stephen Wyble at the Mass of Priesthood Ordination at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. There are 76 other men currently preparing to become priests for the Archdiocese of Washington.
“Your priesthood immerses you in the challenges of the New Evangelization that the Church faces today and in the response of joyful witness and compassionate teaching that are the hallmarks of the pontificate of Pope Francis. Guiding your ministry of service should be the joy of the Gospel which is also the name of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation following on the Synod of the New Evangelization. Here, Pope Francis calls upon the Church to begin a new chapter in evangelization. He tells us the Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice,” said the cardinal.
He continued, “His is also the call that you and I need to accept to care for our common home. He tells us that at the heart of our pastoral ministry are a respect for the dignity of each person and the care for the future of our planet. But your priestly ministry must also draw its inspiration from the joy of love. Our Holy Father’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, is a reminder of how great is God’s love for us and how we can not only bask in that love but share it with others.”
The cardinal reminded the men that as they came to the ordination in the basilica, they passed through the Jubilee Door of Mercy. “In establishing this year, Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus is the face of God’s mercy and that you and I are to be reflections of the mercy that has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth. Just as the Father is rich in mercy, so are we to be founts of that healing compassion that springs from the side of Jesus on the cross and flows through the life, history and ministry of the Church down to our day when it is now our turn to continue that life-giving and healing action,” he said. “May your hands always be raised in benediction, blessing, encouragement, mercy, forgiveness, and absolution.”
Always be open to the gift of the Spirit, the cardinal said, “It is the movement of the Spirit that has led you along this path, it is the nudging of the Spirit that brings you to this moment and it is in the outpouring of the Spirit that you will walk united with Christ at the service of his Bride, the Church.”
He continued, “Never forget this morning. Always hold deep in your heart the realization that what you are asked to do at the service of Christ’s Church is truly God’s call. Always be as generous with your response to the needs of God’s people and the direction of your Bishop as you are this morning in your response to God’s call.”
As he concluded his homily, the cardinal said, “May your priestly ministry always be a cause of joy and a living, fruitful echo of God’s call to all to join him in his flock. May God who has so wondrously begun this work in you today bring it to fulfillment.”
After making a promise of obedience to Cardinal Wuerl and his successors, the eight men lay prostrate before the altar, symbolizing their total giving of self, just as Jesus laid down his life to bring salvation to the world as the Litany of Saints was sung. The litany invokes the intercession of apostles and martyrs from the early Church as well as holy women and men of recent times, including St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II as well as the soon-to-be-canonized Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Then, in a gesture of apostolic origin, Cardinal Wuerl laid hands on each candidate’s head, the essential act of ordination, as a sign that the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them and each is configured to Christ as Head of his Church. The 150 concelebrating priests from the archdiocese also laid hands on the heads of the new priests. “This transforming gift of grace parallels sacramentally what took place as Jesus stood in the Jordan and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him with the voice from Heaven announcing: ‘This is my beloved Son. Hear him.’” the cardinal said, in describing the focal point of the ceremony.
The eight new priests were then clothed with the stole and chasuble, the vestments of the priestly office, and Cardinal Wuerl anointed their hands with Sacred Chrism. After receiving the offertory gifts from family members of the new priests, the cardinal handed the paten and chalice to the newly ordained and offered them the sign of peace, as did their new brother priests.
Moments later, the new priests joined their archbishop at the altar for the consecration. As the Mass concluded, the eight new priests offered their first blessing to those at the Mass, and processed down the aisle to applause and cheers from a joyous crowd. Downstairs in designated chapels, hundreds lined up to receive a personal blessing from the new priests, including family members, friends and some of their brother priests.
(Photos courtesy of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC)