MISSION HILL -- Maria Hewett remembers her brother Baldemar Garza blessing her, back when they were both young kids. Three or four at the time, it's one of her oldest memories, she said. It was "surreal" to her, then, when, as adults, the now Father Garza blessed her as a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston May 19 following his ordination into the priesthood at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mission Hill.
"We've know that his whole life, this is what he wanted, and to actually be at this point is truly amazing. It's so emotional, so spiritual; we're just so happy for him" said Hewett, speaking to The Pilot after the ordination.
Looking at her brother, dressed in his new stole and chasuble, a smile on his face, she said "He is like the happiest we've ever seen him. It's so great."
Father Garza was one of nine men welcomed into the priesthood by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, May 19, during a Mass of Ordination at the Boston basilica.
Able to seat more than 1,000 people, the basilica was filled almost to capacity with family, friends, parishioners and clergy as the ordinands took their seats at the front of the basilica.
Ordained during the Mass for the Archdiocese of Boston were Priests Benito Moreno, Andrea Povero, and Eric Velasquez from Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline; Priests Joseph Kim and Michael Rora from St. John's Seminary in Brighton; and Priests Baldemar Garza and Lambert Nieme from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston.
Two priests from the Diocese of Thanh Hoa, Vietnam were also ordained during the Mass. Priests Joseph Tung Tuan Nguyen and Joseph Son Van Trinh have been studying at St. John's Seminary in preparation to becoming seminary faculty members in Vietnam.
In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley addressed the candidates, likening their call to follow Jesus to the same call the apostles harkened to. That call, he said, that "invitation to follow Jesus" is also a call to be evangelizers.
"The Church exists to evangelize, and all our priests must be missionary disciples, constantly inviting others to be part of Jesus' family, to embrace his Gospel and his mission," said the cardinal.
Love and mercy are vital parts of that mission, the cardinal said, and urged the candidates to "make mercy the great theme of your ministry."
"Know that the priest is the father of the poor, and in a special way must be attentive to their needs," he said. "In a culture that is so often polarized and divided, the priest is a man of reconciliation and forgiveness."
Recalling the disciple who rested his head on the heart of Jesus, the cardinal said "you, too" must "rest your head on the heart of Jesus each day when you celebrate the Eucharist. Listen to his heartbeats, and make his sentiments your own."
Celebrate the Eucharist each day, Cardinal O'Malley continued, and "bring the hopes and sorrows, the joys and pains of your people and place them on the altar." Remember to pray, as "prayer is one of the most important services we render to God's people."
The Rite of Ordination began before the homily, as each man stood and answered "present" as his name was called. The candidates were then presented to Cardinal O'Malley, who elected the men for ordination with the consent of the friends, family and supporters of the candidates to a round of applause, which signified their approval.
Following the homily, the rite continued with each candidate for the Archdiocese of Boston approaching the cardinal and promising obedience to him and his successors. The two candidates from Vietnam promised obedience to their ordinary, instead. All candidates then lay prostrate before the altar during the Litany of Supplication.
Cardinal O'Malley then laid his hands on each of the men's heads, an act that was repeated by all of the clergy present.
After the laying-on of hands and the prayer of consecration, the newly ordained were vested with the stole and chasuble, sign of the office of priesthood, and their hands were anointed.
The cardinal then handed the new priests a paten and chalice before they joined him at the altar to concelebrate the Mass, where the newly ordained joined their brothers to participate in the Communion Rite as priests for the first time.
Following the Mass, Father Lambert Nieme surrounded by friends and family, some of whom traveled internationally to attend the ordination, said he is "very grateful" for everyone's "prayers and support."
He said he was "very excited" that the ordination had taken place in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, an atypical location for such an event as the usual venue, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, remains under renovation. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Father Nieme explained, is the protector of his diocese in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"For me to be ordained to in this church is divine grace, like being ordained at home and under the protection and intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help," he said. "I'm really grateful for that."