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Reflections on my Ordination to the Priesthood

  07/20/11 17:00, by jsignal, Categories: life with god

It?s tough to describe the experience of being ordained to the priesthood. I often explained to family and friends that my ordination was not a mere ?graduation? after years of study. Rather, it was my wedding day. On that day I offered my life, completely, to my spouse the Catholic Church.

After years of study and prayer, I fell in love with the Church. After so much preparation and with a deep understanding of what a priest is, I arrived at the Cathedral on June 29th with my classmate, Deacon Bill Ruelle, for our ordination day.

Early in the Rite of Ordination the bishop asked Fr. Richter, our vocation director, if we have been found worthy. He responded ?After inquiry among the Christian people and upon the recommendation of those responsible, I testify that he has been found worthy.?

What a powerful statement this is for a man to hear. By their own merits, seminarians realize they are not up to the task of serving God?s people as priests. For years we question our ability to set aside our own wills and let God work through us, we strive to prepare for the intellectual challenges that await us as we serve as priests. Finally, the Church Herself has declared us worthy.

Next, the bishop proclaimed ?Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these men, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood,? to which the people responded ?Thanks be to God? and with applause. To hear the bishop, as our own successor of the apostles and representative of the Universal Church, say that ?we choose? you is humbling.

Just like in a marriage, I was chosen by my spouse and both of us have uttered ?yes.?

After the homily we made various promises to Bishop Zipfel. We promised to discharge the office of priesthood ?without fail,? to be ?worthy fellow workers with the Order of Bishops,? to preach and teach the Catholic faith, to celebrate ?faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church?s tradition? the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. We promised to ?pray without ceasing? for you and for the whole Church, and we promised obedience to Bishop Zipfel and to his successors. As the title of Archbishop Fulton Sheen?s book reminds us, ?the priest is not his own.?

These promises seem impossible to keep, and indeed by our own efforts they are. That is why we then lay prostrate before the altar as the beautiful litany of saints was sung, asking them all for their intercession as we undertook this new life.

Having asked the saints to pray for us, the bishop then performed the two essential things required for an ordination: the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination. At that point, we became priests. We were vested in chasubles and our hands were anointed with Sacred Chrism, consecrating them for the Lord?s service.

Not long after, the most emotional part of the liturgy for me came about: the ?kiss of peace? in which all of the priests who were present (there were about 70) came forward to welcome me to the priesthood and the presbyterate of Bismarck. This caught me off guard. For years I reflected on how I would feel as I lay prostrate on the floor, or during the prayer of ordination, or during the anointing of my hands. When I had attended ordinations in the past, the ?kiss of peace? seemed tiresome and long as, one after another, the priests came up and gave awkward hugs to the new priests.

My experience, as that new priest, was totally different. One after another my brother priests approached and uttered ?welcome to the priesthood.? Young priests, elderly priests, priests from all over the country. All of them, my brother priests. These are the men with whom I will serve for decades to come. I was given a warm welcome into the presbyterate.

Since that day I have had the great privilege of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of sharing my love for the Gospel with all of you, and of dispensing God?s mercy to you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Some of those days I have been exhausted at the end of the day, but it was a joy-filled exhaustion. Like Christ, on those days, I have spent myself for his people. Please pray for me that I be a humble, holy priest who leads the people of the Diocese of Bismarck closer to our Lord.

God Bless,

Fr. Jason Signalness


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Comment from: Jesse [Visitor]

Congrats again on your ordination….I have no doubt in my mind that you will be an awesome servant for God.

07/24/11 @ 17:02
Comment from: Cat S. [Visitor]
5 stars

Congratulations on your ordination to the priesthood, Fr. Jason. It was indeed a profound and moving day.

08/08/11 @ 15:59
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