Archbishop Myers Homily from Priesthood Ordinations

I posted a further down below about the Priesthood Ordinations that took place last Saturday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

Archbishop Myers gave a beautiful homily, which was released on the diocese website, and I post here:

Homily by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark,
PRIESTHOOD ORDINATION, SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL BASILICA,
May 24, 2008

We gather here today in profound communion of faith, communion of mind and heart and life with our holy Church all over the world and across the centuries. In union with Peter and the Apostles commissioned by the Lord to shepherd His people and the countless men and women over the centuries who have carried that word, we acknowledge God’s continual initiative to lead and serve His people.

Here in northern New Jersey the faith has been built up by the proclamation of those sent, laity as well as clergy. The celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of New York reminds us of that. Our faith goes back further, of course, French priests in Canada and the Northeast joined with diocesan clergy and native clergy as well. All have responded seriously to the mandate to carry the Gospel to all nations. Their selflessness, courage, perseverance and profound faith in Jesus Christ and their union with His Church together with the generous response of many who heard them built the Church here. But they loved everyone even those who did not respond positively.

I had the privilege of knowing and welcoming to my home Cardinal Francis Xavier Thuãn, who served as Coadjutor Bishop of Saigon in Vietnam. He reminded me of the selflessness and courage of our forbearers here in the United States.

When Vietnam fell, the Communists quickly took Archbishop Thuãn and imprisoned him. He was interrogated, badly mistreated, subjected to great indignities and he was expelled from Vietnam. He had endured nine years of isolation. Guards were taught to mistrust him, fear him and hate him before they were assigned to guard him.

The Archbishop who had become a Cardinal amazed me and edified me when he explained that the major focus of his prayer life during those years was to love those guards and political officers – to love and respect them – and never to hate. And, by God’s grace, he did not hate them to their amazement. Gradually over those solitary years the guards came to respond to him, he came to know them. In spite of incredible restrictions and serious sufferings, by faith, grace, personal struggle and constant prayer he became a pastor to many of them. Those whose hearts were open would understand. He served them by refusing to accept them in their ignorance. Eventually, from example, through God’s Word he could occasionally celebrate Holy Mass. Even when we are the lonely, the broken hearted, the captive, they who mourn, we can still be ministers.

The story is much longer and much more beautiful than I have recounted, but it shows clearly that helping the Lord shepherd His people has a great price as it has across the centuries. It is no different today.

How easy it would have been for missionaries to wait until civil society had been well established. How easy it would have been for Archbishop Thuãn to write off those guards. The missionaries love for Christ, then union with Him, helped them to know that the love offered by God through Jesus Christ is too wonderful, too important, to be held back by such personal limitations or personal considerations.

Today as much as ever we need shepherds to lead courageously, selflessly, lovingly, respectfully. The Holy Father has called each of us back to the fundamentals, to what he calls the New Evangelization, to turn to Jesus Christ and His saving message. He urges us to proclaim the Gospel as entrusted to the Church, which understands in a marvelous way what is required for truly dignified, upright human living.

All of us are called to such authentic discipleship of Jesus Christ. All of us must struggle to do so within our own vocation and the particular circumstances of our lives. We must all seek to do so lovingly, selflessly, courageously, respectfully. But surely those who would shepherd must be willing to help lead the way.

My dear Ordinandi, the challenge is great. You will need great hearts, pastors’ “hearts”, in fact, the heart of Christ to live your vocation. I can assure you that you will serve wonderful people. I can assure you that you are joining a wonderful presbyterate filled with priests who know that they have no greater calling than the opportunity to help the Good Shepherd care for His people. May you do so, courageously, selflessly, lovingly, respectfully.

A short time ago this morning we together turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary as we prayed the Rosary, asking that you might open your hearts to the Gift of the Holy Spirit as she was open in her own life. May you always seek her help and intercession, even as we do now as we proceed to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

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