Bishop ordains priest for the diocese
By TARA CONNOLLY
Father Richard James is ordained a priest during the Laying on of Hands. (Photos by John Simitz)
"You are being ordained at a very challenging time. But, by the same token it is a time of great hope," said Bishop John Barres June 2 to the newly ordained Father Richard James during the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
Bishop Barres presided at the ceremony where more than 300 clergy, faithful and family and friends of Father James witnessed him fulfill his calling in becoming a priest for Jesus Christ.
"You, along with your brother priests enjoy the missionary privilege of being able to preach the word at the time of the New Evangelization, during which we have the opportunity to challenge the tired skepticism and materialism that have seeped into Western culture, and to invite people once again to learn the truth of Jesus Christ, who is now, as he has always been and always will be, the way, the truth and the life," said Bishop Barres.
After the Gospel reading, Bishop Barres initiated the Rite of Ordination with the calling and presentation of the candidate to the bishop as a sign of worthiness for ordination.
At the consent of the people, the congregation indicated their acceptance of the bishop's decision to ordain Father James by applauding.
Bishop Barres examined the candidate's willingness to embrace the duties and obligations of the priestly office, then Father James kneeled before him and vowed to obey him and his successors.
Next, the bishop invited all present to pray for Father James as he prostrated himself before the altar as a sign of his submission before God during the Litany of Saints.
Rising to his feet, Father James knelt before Bishop Barres again for the Laying on of Hands. This gesture, together with the Prayer of Consecration, is the outward sign of the ordination to the Order of Priests. In a like manner, those priests present imitated the motion as a sign of oneness of the priesthood they share.
The rite continued with the Prayer of Consecration and the Investiture with Stole and Chasuble, and was followed by Bishop Barres performing the Anointing of Hands with sacred chrism.
The ordination concluded with the bishop and priests welcoming the new priest into the presbyteral order with a fraternal kiss of peace.
After the rite, Bishop Barres delivered the homily in which he advised Father James to place God first and promote the truths of the Catholic faith.
"In choosing to open your life to the call of the Holy Spirit and the call of the church, you have demonstrated a willingness to follow Christ and to place him at the center of your life. It is – as it was in the Roman Empire when St. Paul preached to the Gentiles – widely seen as foolishness," he said.
"But, in fact, placing God first is never foolish. Instead, it is what human beings were made for. It is in keeping with our deepest essence. And if followed consistently, it will lead you to the life of holiness to which you aspire."
He also instructed Father James to "believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach."
Bishop Barres explained the application of this message to James' ministry. "Your seminary formation has built an excellent foundation for you, in your devotion to and union with Christ the Teacher, to engage in the art of communicating the truths of our Catholic faith to the people, the families and real life situations and suffering they experience."
In advising Father James to believe what he reads, Bishop Barres said, "Read [Sacred Scripture] with the light and guidance provided by the church fathers and as understood by the church through the ages. Understand that when read with the church, the sacred Scriptures are not some dimly understood ancient words from ancient times."
Finally, Bishop Barres related the message "practice what you teach" to the idea of faith and charity with a quote from Pope Benedict XVI that reads, "Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path.... It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ, and it is love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbor along the journey of life."
Bishop Barres also reminded Father James that his vocation to the priesthood will include many challenges.
"But nothing – nothing – could be more important or more worthwhile," he said. "Today you have accepted that challenge and today we pray and sacrifice for you as you go out to meet it," said Bishop Barres.
Father James is the son of Peter and Ann, James, Elysburg and has two older brothers, Peter and Michael. He is a graduate of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia and a 2004 graduate of Southern Columbia High School, Elysburg.
His first pastoral assignment is parochial vicar of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring, where he will serve an estimated 3,200 families with Msgr. James Treston, pastor.
"I am very excited to embrace the new community where I will be assigned as a priest. I hope to balance well my 'learning how to be a priest' stage with my various obligations," said Father James.
"I know that my pastor and other brother priests will be a great help in this, as well as the people of God who I will serve," he said.
Principal concelebrants were Bishop Edward Cullen, bishop emeritus of Allentown, and Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia.
Other principal concelebrants were Msgr. Alfred Schlert, Msgr. Gerald Gobitas, Msgr. David James, Msgr. Daniel Yenushosky, Father Wayne Killian and Father Patrick Welsh.
Concelebrants were priests of the Diocese of Allentown and Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Vesting priest was Msgr. Andrew Baker. Msgr. Victor Finelli was master of ceremonies. Gift bearers were Peter and Ann James.
Deacon Jeffrey Tudgay, transitional deacon of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was deacon of the word, and Deacon William Hassler was deacon of the Eucharist.
Brendon Laroche, diocesan seminarian, and Laura Walker were lectors. The Allentown Diocesan Choir provided music.