by: John Franko
Midway through his 2006 ordination ceremony, Father Joseph Carr suddenly found himself unsure of where to stand.
“You’re always welcome to stand with us,” offered one of his brother priests as he beckoned Father Carr to join them.
It was a fitting gesture as Father Carr took his place among the presbyterate of Pittsburgh in the ancient ordination rite May 20 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.
“Words can’t describe it,” said Father Carr of the joy he felt in joining his brother priests around the altar for the first time.
Archbishop-designate Donald Wuerl said the ordination was a testimony to Father Carr’s willingness to give his life in service of others.
“This morning, he affirms his desire to step forward and offer his life to Christ and his church,” the archbishop-designate said.
He reminded Father Carr that a priest must always be generous in his response to God’s people.
As part of the rite of ordination, Father Carr stated his intention to undertake the order of the priesthood and he pledged his obedience to the archbishop-designate and his successors. He then prostrated himself as the assembly offered prayers to the saints.
In the most solemn gesture of the rite, the laying on of hands, Archbishop-designate Wuerl placed his hands on Father Carr. The other priests did the same, signifying their solidarity in priestly ministry.
Father Carr was then invested with his stole and chasuble (priestly garments) and Archbishop-designate Wuerl anointed the new priest’s palms with holy chrism.
In a final act, the archbishop-designate extended a fraternal greeting, followed by the other priests.
In explaining the ordination rite and the responsibilities of the priesthood, he pointed out that while every member of the church is part of the body of Christ, through ordination a priest receives a special anointing that unites him with Christ as head of the body.
He noted that the church is the response to Jesus’ challenge to the apostles to carry on his work.
“It is here in the church that we encounter the new, the risen, the glorified Christ,” Archbishop-designate Wuerl said.
He said the work of Christ is done through priests, who are configured to Christ to reflect his presence.
The priest becomes one in Christ, he noted, through a transforming encounter with the Lord Jesus. The ordination rite makes that transformation visible.
Archbishop-designate Wuerl pointed out that when Father Carr prostrated himself before the altar, it symbolized the total giving of himself to others.
He also stated that when Father Carr pledged his intention to undertake the order of the priesthood, he pledged to spread the word of Jesus, not his own.
In noting Father Carr’s pledge of obedience to him and his successors, Archbishop-designate Wuerl said it recalled that Jesus did not come to do his own will, but that of the one who sent him.
The archbishop-designate said everything a priest does flows from the celebration of the Eucharist.
“Never is the priest more the presence of Jesus than when he stands at the altar and celebrates the Eucharist,” he said.
Archbishop-designate Wuerl reflected on the teaching of Pope John Paul II, who stated that when the Eucharist is celebrated, the work of Jesus becomes truly present.
As the ceremony drew to a close, the archbishop-designate reminded Father Carr that many people made the journey to his ordination with him, and many will be with him in the years to come.
He said his brother priests will always be there to accompany him.
In a touching moment, Archbishop-designate Wuerl knelt before the new priest to receive his blessing.
Father Carr is a native of St. Rosalia in Pittsburgh’s Morningside neighborhood, where Archbishop-designate Wuerl served his first priestly assignment.
The newly ordained priest will begin his duties June 5 as parochial vicar at Good Samaritan in Ambridge and St. John the Baptist in Baden.
Article from the Pittsburgh Catholic