By Mark Weber
FORT WAYNE — “If a pastor is holy, the people we be.” Quoting St. John Vianney, recently declared by Pope Benedict XVI as the patron saint of all priests, Bishop John M. D’Arcy concelebrated Mass with 51 brother priests, one deacon and one archbishop, that honored 21 jubilarian-priests whose service adds up to 895 years. He told a congregation at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne Sept. 24 that “a priest’s vocation is for you, the faithful, and that these priests are here today to offer themselves even more fully than they did on the day of their ordination.”
During the Year for Priests, this particular Mass was for jubilarians and all priests — “to honor them and pray for them,” Bishop D’Arcy said in his homily. The faithful were also granted the opportunity to fulfill the obligations of a plenary indulgence, which Bishop D’Arcy called “a gift of God’s mercy.” To fulfill the obligations of the indulgence, one attends Mass and receives Communion, receives the sacrament of reconciliation and prays for the sanctification of priests — “to pray that priests may have a conversion of heart this year,” Bishop D’Arcy said.
Bishop D’Arcy related from writings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, how Jesus’ call to the priesthood in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke reveal that Jesus went to the mountain and prayed the whole night, and then went down and chose each apostle and called them by name “the ones he himself desired,” as written in Scripture.
“The priesthood is the gift of ourselves to (Christ),” Bishop D’Arcy said. “It is said of John Vianney that in the morning just before he celebrated Mass, he offered his life to God and gave himself to God. So should we at every Mass, so should the priests especially, offer myself to God more fully, beautifully than ever. And the priesthood of the ordained serves the priesthood of the baptized.”
Bishop D’Arcy said to the congregation, “Your priesthood cannot flourish without the Eucharist, without the word of God, without the shepherd who gives you his love, who makes present the Good Shepherd, makes present Christ’s promise, ‘I will not leave you orphans.’”
Returning to the example of St. John Vianney, who kissed the ground at Ars, France, when he arrived their as pastor, Bishop D’Arcy described how Mass attendance at Ars increased gradually and with time grew to the point where people from all over France and other countries came to this remote French hamlet for his spiritual direction and common sense advice.
After the homily, the priests answered “I do” seven times as the bishop led them in a renewal of their vows.
Jubilarian priests honored were the following: 70 years — Father Robert Traub; 60 years — Father William Peil, Father Raymond Balzer, Holy Cross Father William Donahue, Father Thomas Doriot and Holy Cross Father Robert Pelton; 50 years — Father Paul Bueter, Holy Cross Father William Melody, Father Camillo Tirabassi, and Father Matthew Sienkiewicz; 40 years — Holy Cross Father Leonard Collins, Father Lourdino Fernandes, Missionary Oblate of the Mary Immaculate Father J. Bosco Perera, Msgr. James Wolf and Father Laurence Tippmann; 25 years — Father Paul McCarthy, Father Jeffery Largent, Father Stephen Colchin, Father Bruce Piechocki and Spiritan Father Paulinus Odozor.
After the Mass, there was exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
The jubilarians were joined by other priests for a luncheon in the Archbishop Noll Catholic Center after the Mass.
A special guest at the Mass and luncheon was Archbishop Phillip M. Hannan, retired archbishop of New Orleans, who celebrated 70 years in the priesthood this year. He served as the 11th archbishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans from 1965 to 1988. Bishop D’Arcy announced that Archbishop Hannan was a paratrooper chaplain in the 82nd Airborne during WW II.
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