BIRTHING – Updated 5/11/2009
One week from today our local church will have a new priest, Carl Joseph Melchior. He has been in the “pipeline” now for nine years, four as a college seminarian and five in theology which included his pastoral year at St. Paul’s parish in St. Petersburg. Like the arrival of all “newborns”, his ordination will be greeted with rejoicing for him and for us. He wishes there were others who would be alongside of him before me but we will rejoice at each single or multiple birth. (Next year there should be two to be ordained and this morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral the vast Archdiocese of New York ordained three men). Carl’s is in his forties and for many years prior to entering the seminary he worked as an Equipment Manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Raised and educated at Christ the King in South Tampa, his parents have already gone home to the Lord so next to my own seat, they will have the best seat “out of the house” next Saturday as their son is ordained a priest. He has a brother and sister-in-law who have at least one child for Uncle Carl to love and take pride in.
The birth of a priest is a long and somewhat arduous process. I remember when Carl first appeared before me as a candidate and he was worried that it might take so long to get ordained that the best years of his life would be behind him. He did so well in both of the seminaries and is so appreciated by those who were responsible for his formation. Most of them will join his friends and people from the parishes where he has served in rejoicing, sharing his happiness and thanking God.
I have spent the afternoon working on my homily for his ordination. It will go through another few drafts before I am satisfied that it should see the light of day on Saturday next. Some moments are special and an ordination is the most wonderful ceremony that any bishop is privileged to celebrate. And only the ordaining bishop can or at least should preach on this occasion. There are always a good number of priests present to welcome their newest brother as well as priest representatives from the seminary and from other dioceses as well. So the proverbial “heat is on.” Usually one week out would be way earlier than I would turn my attention to the homily but I feel the pressure. I must confess that I am more than just a little distracted this afternoon as the Rays are playing the hated Red Sox and I can hear the excitement of the Fox broadcast from my office and occasionally get up to see what is going on and root, root, root the home team. But I digress.
The ordination picture for the future is decidedly better for this diocese but I don’t count on anything until a man’s invitations go out. It is a big decision which needs ratification, by the man himself, by God’s people, by the seminary and also by his peers. On all scores, Carl Melchior is ready and like an obstetrician, I am ready to use my hands to make it happen. We should rejoice and be glad and throughout this week, pray for Carl (a.k.a. “Buster”).
Update: Please note correction in “ERRATA, CORRECTION, OR JUST OOPS!“