Bishop Boyea ordains one priest, two transitional deacons in Mass at St. Mary Cathedral
By Mark Haney
The Catholic Times
LANSING — Priests and deacons should not just celebrate the sacraments. They should be the sacraments.
That was the message Bishop Earl Boyea gave on Saturday, June 23, when he ordained James Mangan (son of James and Susan Mangan) a priest and Paul Erickson (son of Brian and Arlene Erickson) and John Whitlock (son of Dennis and Mary Whitlock) transitional deacons at a Mass at St. Mary Cathedral. While the new priest will be serving St. Patrick Parish in Brighton as a parochial vicar (assistant pastor), the other two will be finishing their studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. They should become priests next June.
“You, my sons and my brothers who are to be ordained,” the bishop said, “are called to carry on a mission which is not your own. In one radical sense, it will never be your own. Insofar as you are able, you will need to conform your heart, mind, soul and body to this Presence, which wishes to take you over and use you. If you are able to do this, you will find a peace and joy commensurate with the union of your own will to that of Christ.
“You present yourselves here today to let Christ speak. To allow the word uttered by the Heavenly Father before the foundation of the world to resonate in the hearts of believers and unbelievers alike. These are not your words which the world yearns to hear, but the Word of God. And that word always comes clothed in the cross. So become the sacrament of His word. Do not just think about it, do not just study it, do not just talk about it. Become it.”
In a way, the bishop told the three, they are God’s answer to Christ’s prayer.
“We like to think that Christ called the 12 apostles, the bishop said. “Would it be better to say that Jesus begged for harvesters and His Father in heaven then gave Him the 12? Jesus, no doubt, did pray. Who wouldn’t pray? He saw that the people were like sheep, troubled and abandoned. Only God can address such a crisis. And God wants to address such a crisis. You, my sons and my brothers, are the gift of the Father to Jesus. Certainly, we need not look far to see that our own times find the people deeply harassed and troubled. The harvest is incredibly huge and we, in the Church and in the world, are reduced to begging. Just as Jesus is eternally begging for more harvesters. Jesus needs to bring in the flock, to gather in the grapes, to thresh the wheat. And thus, you are sacraments of Jesus … doing something that is not your work. Certainly, we bring to this task all of our talents, gifts and energies, but ultimately, this is not what we had in mind, what we wanted to do, what is the result of our dreams and hopes. Rather, we are Christ, working among His people, working in the world.”
To truly do this work, he told the three, they must sublimate themselves and their wants and needs to the higher cause.
“This is the total gift of yourself because you are allowing yourself to be Christ, who daily, eternally makes a total gift of Himself,” Bishop Boyea said. “There is always some dread in making this gift of self. I know. I cringe at times at the call that God demands that I be so poured out, that is that I let Christ be poured out in and through me. And yet I know this is the result of being controlled by my fears, the fear that there shall be nothing left to me if I give in. That fear must be turned into courage and joy, for in this gift of myself will be Christ, who is all important.
“We must become so one with Christ that we are then able to do what we otherwise would be unable to do, to love as Christ loved. So, my brothers and sons, become a sacrament of Christ’s love.”
None of this can be done, he reminded the three, without allowing Christ to work through us.
“So become a sacrament of Christ’s work,” he said. “Do not just make plans, jump in and be Christ’s hands.”
Fr. Mangan, speaking for the three, said they come to their calling with a singular purpose: to change lives.
“Because of our desire to leave a lasting mark, Deacon Paul, Deacon John and I stand before you today,” he said. “We are convinced that although there are many beautiful things in this world, only one will last — the human person. It is for this reason and this reason alone that men are ordained priests. So that you, so that everyone you know, so that everyone in this world comes to know the love of Christ Jesus and prepare to spend all of eternity with Him.
“We also stand before you today, very grateful and honored, joyful and happy, that we have been called to serve God in this very special way. He could have called other people, He could have called more worthy people. But God chooses us not for any particular reason, but because He loves us. So we are grateful to Him for having done so.”
His words surprised his youngest sister since the two of them had been up until 2 a.m. that day preparing text and printing it. “And,” she said, “he didn’t even use it.”
His father, also James, said the day was just a whirlwind for everyone, including his son. The reality would come on Sunday, June 24, when the new priest would say his first Mass at his home parish, Christ the King in Ann Arbor.
“He’s just trying to get through today,” his father said, “but tomorrow it will be more of a time to dig in and get to work.”
As a sacrament, of course.