By DEIRDRE C. MAYS
CHARLESTON The stained glass window portraying the Last Supper high above the altar at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist provided an historical reminder for the ceremony taking place beneath it July 12.
Four priests were ordained in front of the picture of Jesus Christ sharing the ultimate sacrifice with his disciples. Scott James-Allen Buchanan, James N. Dubrouillet, Jeffrey A. Kendall and Diego Hernan Vinasco-Rivera became apostles.
In the Mass of Presbyteral Ordination, Bishop David B. Thompson told the families and friends who packed the cathedral that, like the apostles before them, these priests will have an affect on the world. He also told the priests to apply what they have learned to the duty of teaching, teach what they believe and put their beliefs into practice. During his comments Bishop Thompson referred to the writing of Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins: “The earth is charged with the grandeur of God.
“That’s what happened at the cathedral on Saturday,” he said. “I said that our whole world would be changed it would be different because of the ordination of these four men.”
Bishop Thompson recalled his own ordination in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on May 27, 1950 and was very conscious of the fact that only he, as a bishop, can make new priests and can ordain them.
“It is a very great feeling for me,” he said. “It is a feeling of power that has been given to me by almighty God and that I can pass on to four candidates the power of the priesthood to consecrate the bread and wine in the body and blood of Christ, to forgive sins, anoint the sick in what we call the last rites.
“It is a very emotional thing for me. It is absolutely the best thing I do because God and the church have given this power to me to exercise.”
The ordination ceremony was moving and many in the congregation wiped away tears. During the rite, the men swore obedience to their bishop and his successor and the prelate anointed their hands telling them to model their lives after the mystery of the Lord.
Bishop Thompson then knelt and received their first blessing and kissed their hands.
“I have great reverence for these priests,” he said. “This is a very moving day for a bishop to ordain priests,” he said.
Dozens of priests concelebrated the Mass and each of the young priests was presented his vestments by his pastor. At times, because of the crowd, parents, family and friends craned their necks to better see their son or brother as he became a priest.
Once the deacons were anointed, however, they became part of a different family.
“I am their ontological father,” Bishop Thompson said. “That’s a very important thing that my being as a bishop is given to them and brings them into being as priests,” he added. “That’s why I say only a bishop can do this. That’s why it is such a privilege, they are my ontological sons. They are attached to me forever. You can see the similarity between the father of a child. I am their father.”
After the Mass ended and the newly ordained were followed down the aisle with a standing ovation, they greeted their admirers at a reception in the parish center.
There was no question that the four were thrilled that the day had come. Though Father Debrouillet said he was excited, not nervous, and felt fine during the ordination, all said they had looked forward to their ordinations immensely.
Fathers Buchanan and Kendall both had experienced something similar during the process:
“As it went on, I felt calmer and calmer, by the litany of the saints I was so calm I could have gone to sleep,” Father Buchanan smiled.
“I was stunned through the whole thing,” Father Kendall said. “I don’t think it’s impacted me yet. But to turn around and see the church entirely filled was really emotional. To see all these people there in support … it started off very emotional but I became very peaceful by the litany of saints.”
Father Vinasco was also overwhelmed by the size of the crowd in the church. Though his first reaction was that he didn’t know how to put the experience in words, he summed up the ordination for his fellow priests and those who witnessed it.
“It was a very deep, holy moment,” Father Vinasco said.