Saturday, September 23, 2006

No priest shortage today

I've just returned from a three-hour ordination service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Normally these ceremonies take about two, but there were eleven ordinands this time. it takes a long time to present, examine, consecrate, lay hands on, and anoint eleven people individually. Our bishop took his time, giving each one the honor due. Today was the first formal affirmation for years of hard work, study and sacrifice.

As my mind wandered, I was reminded of how lucky (blessed) I am to live in this incredible city. Even under renovation, the scaled down space of the cathedral is imposing and beautiful. One thing our church does well is pageantry. From the stately processional (St. Patrick's Breastplate—my favorite hymn of all time) to the inspired liturgy, sermon and litany, it was a celebration of pomp without being pompous. Humor, applause and shy waves from some of the newly vested made for a celebration that was not only regal but real. I am also blessed to be a part of this confused and chaotic time in our church. Events like today's remind me.

I was also surprised by how many people I knew in this large congregation... people from St. Bart's (who celebrated two new priests) as well as a wider group from the Cursillo community in the diocese. Some had not seen me in habit before, even though I'm now in my fourth year, so there was lots of catching up to do.

Of the eleven ordained today, eight are women. That struck me too. If our church had not changed canon law and ordained those first eleven women in 1974, how much more of a priest shortage would there be?

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