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BY JAY DUNLAPSpecial to the Register
You might call it a
Christmas present to God: On Dec. 24, Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico
ordained 27 new priests of the Legionaries of Christ in the chapel of the
Center for Higher Studies of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome.
Cardinal Rivera, the
primate of Mexico, conferred priestly ordination on religious from 10
countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico,
Spain and United States.
“A mystery of might in
trembling hands,” is how Cardinal Rivera began his homily on the nature of the
priesthood. Using the imagery of Christ the Good Shepherd from Psalm 23, he
said that “only with this Shepherd shall we lack nothing.”
The cardinal drew an
analogy with the “shepherd’s staff, guiding us from the dark ravines.” That
staff is friendship with Christ, Cardinal Rivera said, “that upholds us when we
are afraid, when we struggle, when we fail and when we fall. You will
experience this friendship more intensely by participating in the ministerial
priesthood of Christ.”
During the ordination
ceremony, Legionary Father Álvaro Corcuera, the congregations’s general
director, and other superiors helped the new priests to put on the priestly
vestments, and they laid their hands on them as a sign of communion in the
At the end of the
Celebration of the Eucharist, the new priests made their way to the vestibule
to greet their family members and friends that accompanied them in this, the
most important morning of their lives. Their parents and siblings joyfully
embraced the new priests, priests forever.
The newly ordained
spent the first day of their priestly lives with their families and with their
Legionary brothers. In the evening, they concelebrated Christmas Mass together
with their religious community and their relatives.
It is often said that
there is a lack of priestly and religious vocations in the Church. That wasn’t
true on this Christmas Eve morning in Rome; instead, the ordinations bore
witness to the vitality with which the Church is embarking upon its third
millennium of evangelization.
Although they have all
had very different lives, the 27 new priests share in common that they are part
of the Legion of Christ.
The order is a
congregation of missionary priests serving the Church in more than 20 countries
around the world. Presently, the Legion of Christ has about 670 priests and
2,500 seminarians in various stages of formation. They work closely with lay
Catholics, especially the 65,000 members of the Regnum Christi movement.
Each of the new
priests has traveled a long road over many years to reach the point of
ordination. Some joined the Legion of Christ in the minor seminary; others
joined after high school or after having earned a college degree.
The Church’s new
shepherds are eager to begin their priestly ministries.
Newly ordained Father
Brian Shininger, a native of Defiance, Ohio, said: “It is a great joy that my
first assignment will bring me precisely to our apostolic school in Colfax,
Calif., where I will be able to accompany many young men aspiring toward the
Ermatinger from Chicago, who is the eldest of the group at 45 years old, views
his vocation in the context of his former career as a lawyer.
“Years ago when I was
practicing law, the judges used to call me to the bench, arguing cases,” said
Father Roderick. “But now Christ has called me to the altar to be his priest,
Jay Dunlap is communications director for the
Legionaries of Christ.