The Joy of Ordination

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By Sean Morrisroe, Catholic Stand, June 7, AD2018 

It is well known that there is a crisis in the Catholic Church across the western world.  Parishes have closed due to declining attendance and demographics; churches sold off to private parties and converted to condominiums, offices or nightclubs; the assault on religious liberty seems to continue unabated; the shadow of the clergy abuse controversy continues to haunt the Church.   As the abuse controversy is used as a bludgeon against defenders of the Church, it makes most people queasy about defending the Church.

All of the above might create a sense of despair in a person who tries to follow Christ and His Church.  It also distracts one’s thoughts away from doing the right thing, following God’s will and thinking it is futile to continue to believe.  But Catholics need to remember that this is not unusual throughout the history of the Church. Societies have always attacked the Church and will continue its attack way into the future.

These thoughts were swirling in my head after Mass a couple of Sundays ago when a young candidate for the priesthood approached me.  He has been assisting at my parish for some time while attending seminary school. I was sitting on a bench after my family was done selling donuts.  No one else was around as it was probably 30 minutes after the Mass ended. This young enthusiastic man asked if I would like to attend his ordination in a couple of weeks on a Saturday morning.  I hesitated at first; I did not want to attend on a Saturday morning but I quickly came to my senses and accepted the four tickets. It was an experience which rejuvenated my confidence that the Church will survive no matter what the circumstances.

First Impressions

This was the first time I attended an ordination.  I did not know what to expect. The only part I knew was the ordinand (meaning a candidate for ordination) prostrates himself on the altar.  This is the most famous visual of the ceremony, which most people are familiar.

When we arrived at the Cathedral, I was shocked at the attendance. The Cathedral was packed with thousands of people, all in support of the nine men being ordained.  As such, my family and I were not able to find a seat and we stood or kneeled on the floor through the whole ceremony. (I soon discovered during the litany of supplication, that my knees are getting old.)

The Ceremony

The bishop leads the ceremony and almost over a hundred priests from the Archdiocese attended.  The ceremony begins as any Mass does. After the Gospel is read the ceremony starts.

It begins with the Election of the Candidates followed by, Homily, Promise of the Elect, Litany of Supplications (ensure you have a seat in a pew with a cushioned kneeler), Laying of Hands, Prayer of Ordination, Investiture with Stole and Chasuble, Anointing of Hands, Kiss of Peace and Seating of the Newly Ordained Priests in the Presbyterium.

A full description of each act is here.

During the Kiss of Peace of a lovely song written by Felix Mendelssohn was sung:

How lovely are the Messengers that preach us the gospel of Peace.
To all the nations is gone forth the sound of their words.
To all the nations is gone forth the sound of their words,
Throughout all the lands their glad tidings.
How lovely are the Messengers that preach us the gospel of Peace.

An Ordination is Filled with Joy

The whole ordination ceremony was magnificent.  It was great seeing such joy in the newly ordained priests, their families, and friends.  It was also great to see the outpouring of celebration from the thousands of spectators, all there giving support for these men heading out to perform God’s duty.

After the ceremony was over, all two and half hours, the consensus between my wife, daughter, and son was the same.  We loved it. We were all filled with joy and were glad we participated in the ceremony and gave moral support to the new priests.  My son said, enthusiastically, “That was the best Mass I ever went to!” The incense, the choir singing in Latin, the organ, the ancient rituals, and watching a new generation of men taking the mantle to carry the message of Christ lifted us and gave us hope.  They were great reminders that though we think we live through difficult and uncertain times, the Church will continue to march forward spreading God’s message.


Sean Morrisroe is husband to a wonderful woman and father of to an 11-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. He served 10 years in the US Marine Corps as an infantryman and in his post Marine Corps career has worked at investment banks, business valuations firms and public companies focusing on mergers & acquisitions. Sean graduated from UC Irvine with a BA in History, attended the London School of Economics and received a certificate in Finance from UCLA.