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BOSTON -- In the first ordination ceremony held in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross following major renovations, Cardinal Seán O'Malley ordained 13 men to the priesthood on May 18.
The new priests -- making up the largest ordination class for the Archdiocese of Boston in over 20 years -- were Christopher Boyle, Marcos Enrique, Timothy Hynes, Brian O'Hanlon, Mark Olejnik, William Robinson, Corey Rouse, and Paul Wargovich from St. John's Seminary in Brighton; Joseph Almeida, Maciej Araszkiewicz, Przemyslaw Kasprzak, and Victor Vitug from Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary in Brookline; and Corey Bassett-Tirrell from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston.
Hundreds of the ordinands' friends and relatives filled the newly renovated cathedral to capacity, with dozens of mass-goers standing along the side isles and in the back of the cathedral.
The rite of ordination began after the Liturgy of the Word. Each of the candidates responded to the call of his name by standing and saying "present," indicating he was ready and willing to enter the priesthood. Cardinal O'Malley then elected them for ordination.
In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley noted that it was the feast day of St. Felix of Cantalice, the first saint of the Capuchin order to which the cardinal belongs. Cardinal O'Malley also spoke about the struggles faced by two priests of post-revolutionary France: Jean Cheverus, first bishop of Boston, and St. Jean Vianney, patron saint of priests.
"There have been many times in our history when ordination was itself a death sentence," Cardinal O'Malley said.
He pointed to examples of priestly responsibility in the liturgy's readings, which were from the Acts of the Apostles, the First Letter to Timothy, and the Gospel of John.
In the first reading, the apostle Paul bids an emotional farewell to the church of Ephesus. Cardinal O'Malley contrasted that interaction with Paul's persecution of Christians prior to his conversion.
"Paul's conversion, Paul's vocation, changed history, and the conversion and the vocation of these men is also changing history," Cardinal O'Malley said.
He spoke of the Acts of the Apostles as the "sequel" to the gospel of Luke, and said that he likes to believe St. Luke intentionally ended the Acts of the Apostles in an abrupt manner to indicate that the story is not finished.
"The book is not over. We're part of the sequel. These men we ordain today are the new protagonists," Cardinal O'Malley said.
The rite of ordination continued following the homily, with each of the ordinands promising obedience and respect to the cardinal and his successors. Then, they lay prostrate on the marble floor while the assembly offered the Litany of Supplication.
Cardinal O'Malley laid his hands on each of them, a gesture that has its roots in the New Testament as a sign of ordination and invoking the Holy Spirit. The dozens of priests present did likewise, and, later in the ceremony, went through the line again to greet each of the new priests.
After the prayer of consecration, the new priests were vested with stoles and chasubles, signs of the office of the priesthood. Their hands were anointed with the Oil of Chrism, and each symbolically received a paten and chalice.
Following the ordination rite, the new priests joined the cardinal on the altar to concelebrate the Mass, participating in the sacrament as priests for the first time.
"It really, truly is a great day for the Church and for all of the people of God. And my heart is filled with such great gratitude," Father Corey Bassett-Tirrell told the Pilot after the Mass.
Father Christopher Boyle said the experience was "incredibly humbling."
"At the end, when everybody was leaving and I looked at the priests, I said, 'Those are my brothers now.' It just floored me," he said.