Thursday, July 2, 2015

Celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Orders

      There are seven sacraments celebrated within the Catholic Church, and of those seven, two are seen as sacraments of service or vocation: Marriage and Holy Orders.

      The Sacrament of Holy Orders sets aside members of the Church through ordination to serve in specific ministry in the Church.  There are three orders of ministry found in Holy Orders: bishop, priest and deacon.  The fullness of priesthood is found in the Order of Bishop.  Bishops are chosen from among the priests of the Catholic Church, and are usually leaders or Shepherds of territorial units called diocese.  Bishops celebrate the seven sacraments, including the administration of Holy Orders solely reserved for the bishop and also the ordinary administrator of the Sacrament of Confirmation.   The bishop is seen as a successor of the Apostles and is one in unity with the successor of Peter who is the Pope.

     The priesthood sees the one ordained as an elder or presbyter of the People of God, reflecting both the ancient Jewish priesthood in the Temple as well as the work of Jesus Christ as priest.  Saint Thomas Aquinas said that "Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a prefiguration of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ."  The priest in his ordination shares in the fullness of the priesthood which is found in the bishop.  They are not independent agents or freelancers, but their authority to minister within the Church comes from their unity with their bishop.  The priest celebrates the sacraments (except Holy Orders and normally Confirmation) as well as presides over liturgical services.

     The diaconate is described as an order of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity.  There are presently within the Catholic Church both transitional deacons (proceeding on toward priesthood) and permanent deacons (who may be married).  Deacons proclaim the Gospel and preach and teach at Mass, assist at Mass, is an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion.  He can baptize, witness the sacrament of Matrimony, preside over funeral rites outside of Mass and lead the faithful in various services.  Deacons were first set apart for service by the Apostles in chapter 6 of the Acts of the Apostles.

     These explanations were longer than I had planned but only scratched the surface for what Holy Orders entails.  My reason for going into this is that in the Diocese of Greensburg, we have the rare experience of celebrating the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders with a month of this summer of 2015.

     On Saturday, June 14th, four men were ordained for the permanent diaconate by Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.  They joined two other permanent deacons for our diocese ordained during Bishop Brandt's tenure.

The deacons are Steve Black, Mike Orange, Bill Newhouse and Jeff Cieslewicz
along with Bishop Brandt.
     On Saturday, June 21st, three men were ordained as priests for the Diocese of Greensburg by Bishop Brandt at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.  They joined five others who were ordained to the priesthood during the eleven years of Bishop Brandt's tenure.
Newly ordained priests - Fathers Anthony Klimko, James Morley and Eric Dinga
along with Bishop Brandt.
     And now on the 13th day of July, we have the joy of witnessing the ordination and installation of our new Shepherd, Edward C. Malesic as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg.  This will complete our celebration of Holy Orders in this small but blessed diocese.  Bishop-elect Malesic will be ordained by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M.Cap, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia as Principal Consecrator along with Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt and Bishop Ronald W. Gainer (the Bishop of Harrisburg - Bishop-elect Malesic's home diocese) as Co-Consecrators.

      In the next few weeks I will be sharing thoughts and information regarding the ordination of Bishop-elect Malesic, and I hope that you can share in our joy at his arrival in the Western part of this great Commonwealth and in this great Diocese.  Please pray for him, and please pray for us.

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