June 14, 2016 // Local

The gift of three newly ordained Priests

By Jennifer Miller

For more photos visit the photo gallery.

Read Bishop Rhoades’ homily here

The elect prostrate themselves on the floor of the cathedral as a sign of their complete submission to the will of God, while the Litany of Saints is sung.

SOUTH BEND — “The priesthood is a gift: no human being is able to make himself a priest, a mediator for God. As the letter to the Hebrews says: ‘no one takes this honor upon himself, but only when called by God.’”

With these words, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades reminded the faithful of the great gift they were about to receive in the ordination of Deacons Craig Borchard, Bob Garrow and David Violi on June 4th. And to the Deacons, the elect, he spoke of their insertion into the life and mission of Christ, the great High Priest and Good Shepherd, through their priestly ordination. To a packed, joy filled congregation in the Cathedral of St. Matthew, South Bend, Bishop Rhoades reminded all: “How close God is to us, His beloved people, in the gifts He gives us through the ministry of the priests of His Son. And for this gift, we give thanks to God today.”

Stretching down along Miami Street and around the corner, priests and deacons in cream and gold colored vestments lined the outside sidewalk to process into the Cathedral. On a beautiful Saturday morning, the sight itself was a witness to the goodness and rich blessings of God. The same spirit of great joy and gratitude filled the Cathedral inside. Lead by talented musicians and cantors, the faithful’s voices harmoniously sang “O Christ, High Priest Eternal!” People traveled to witness this sacrament from all sides of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and numerous parishes across the city of South Bend itself. This was the first ordination to the priesthood in South Bend in 23 years. The excitement was truly palpable both for the incredible gift of three new priests, as well as a sacrament that many present had never witnessed.

For Father Bob Garrow, the special location was especially poignant. A St. Matthew parishioner, he had received all of his sacraments in the Cathedral Parish from Msgr. Michael Heintz, who was in the ordination class of 1993, the last time priestly ordinations were in South Bend. A spiritual father for him, Msgr. Heintz also vested Father Bob with the stole and chasuble during the Ordination Mass, vestments of the priestly offices.

Father Garrow is especially grateful to Bishop Rhoades for this special location for the occasion. The newly ordained priests are from the South Bend area of the diocese and requested that the priesthood ordination be celebrated at St. Matthew Cathedral.

The day and date of the ordination was also especially significant. It is the Jubilee Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis. Bishop Rhoades spoke to the three men about to be ordained of the special meaning of their being ordained in the Jubilee Year, reminding them of their vocation to be “living signs of God the Father’s mercy in all they say and do, and most intensely in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

June 4 was also the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The day before, the dress rehearsal for the ordination, was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “As the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolizes the reality of Jesus’ love, so the Immaculate Heart of Mary symbolizes the reality of Mary’s love,” Bishop Rhoades explained. “We pray that throughout your priestly life you will learn to love Christ and His Church more and more. You have a beautiful teacher of this love for Christ and His Church: the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she who is the mother of priests watch over you and protect your ministry with her love that you may be holy priests after the heart of her Son!”

“Pastoral ministry must be born of (this) love. The Church will be built up in love every time you celebrate Mass.” He repeated this last sentence twice, emphasizing the way in which God works in our world, through love. The communion songs echoed the theme of love, praising God in the Eucharist.

Father Garrow spoke beautifully of the gift of the priesthood as not just for himself. “It is not a gift that has been given to me for my own personal use. It’s to be given to other people. Give it to them and give and invest my whole self. And I do look forward to that.”

In his homily Bishop Rhoades spoke of this same gift as coming from God for the salvation of all people. “They will do things that no men can do by their own power. In Christ’s name, they will speak the words which absolve us of our sins. Over the offerings of bread and wine, they will speak Christ’s words that make His Body and Blood present as food for His people… God will enter the life of these three men in a new way through ordination. The Lord will consecrate them so that they will be able to speak and act in the name of His Son. Through this consecration, they will be inserted into the life and mission of Christ, the great High Priest and Good Shepherd, in order to extend His saving mission.”

Before his ordination, Father Craig Borchard also spoke of the gift of priesthood given in service for the people of God. On the forefront of his mind, the night before ordination was his future parish assignment. “Those are my people!” he said with a smile. “Those are the people that the bishop and the Lord have called me to minister to. I already have them on my heart. How can I best bring Jesus to them? I will learn them and they learn me.”

All three newly ordained priests were clearly filled with such love and excitement for God and God’s people, that their voices shone with true joy and peace of doing God’s will. Father Garrow spoke of this calling and choice to respond and affirm as, “It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus Christ.”

During the Mass, Bishop Rhoades began by thanking Fathers Craig, Bob and David for “saying ‘Yes!’ to God’s call.” He described their “Yes!” as “a great gift from God to the Church.” When the rite of ordination began, the three elect were called forth and each answered “Present.” From the St. Joseph side of the church, loud applause erupted and spread throughout the cathedral, as the faithful expressed their joyful gratitude and affirmation of those about to be ordained.

When first discovering God’s call, years ago, Father Garrow spoke with Msgr. Heintz. “I felt unworthy. And he told me, ‘Good! We all are.’” This humility and need for God was present in the readings chosen by the new priests for their ordination Mass. The reading from the Old Testament recounted the calling of the prophet Jeremiah and his hesitancy to accept the call because of his youth.  God told him to have no fear and assured Jeremiah that He would be with him.  God touched Jeremiah’s mouth and said: “See, I place my words in your mouth.”  Bishop Rhoades explained that just as God gave Jeremiah the grace to fulfill his heavy responsibility, He gives grace and strength through the sacrament of priestly ordination.  In fact, Bishop Rhoades stated, God quite literally puts His words in the mouth of His priests when they say: “This is my body which is given up for you” and “This is the chalice of my blood which will be poured out for you.”

After the homily, those to be ordained knelt before Bishop Rhoades to promise respect and obedience to him and his successors.  They then prostrated before the altar for the Litany of Supplication.  The whole assembly joined in the prayer which invoked God’s grace and the intercession of the saints in heaven.  After this solemn act of prayer, the men rose and each knelt before the Bishop who imposed his hands on their heads.  While all the priests present individually laid their hands on the heads of the elect, the choir chanted the ancient hymn Veni Sancte Spiritus, asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His gifts.  It was beautiful to watch each older priest and spiritual father, lay his hands and bless the next, new generation of priests, each a familiar, known and beloved face to the lay faithful.

The three elect then knelt once again before the bishop who recited the consecratory prayer which, together with the bishop’s imposition of hands, is the essential rite of the sacrament of Holy Orders.  After the prayer, the newly ordained priests were vest in the stole and chasuble by Monsignors William Schooler and Michael Heintz.

The hands of the new priests were then anointed with the sacred chrism by Bishop Rhoades, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make their ministry fruitful.  Next, the bishop presented each new priest with the chalice and paten which they are called to present to God in the Eucharistic sacrifice saying: “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.” He repeated this three times, a commission, each individually to the newly ordained priests.

The Rite of Ordination ended with the bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to each new priest, welcoming them into the diocesan presbyterate or priesthood. Each of the priests present then followed the Bishop’s example. The joy and gratitude of the great gift could be felt throughout the Cathedral.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist then followed.  Our new priests joined all the priests for the first time in concelebrating the Eucharist with the bishop, reciting together the words of consecration.  For the first time, they offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, acting in the person of Christ.  From this sacrifice their whole priestly ministry will draw its strength.

After the ordination Mass, a light rain fell outside the Cathedral. Like a blessing of holy water from heaven, all were gently blessed as they left the church, filled with thankfulness of the gift given that morning. God’s presence was clearly everywhere. As Father Violi said the night before his ordination, “God calls everyone to holiness. God calls us wherever we are. It can seem terrifying but don’t be afraid to respond.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.