By NANCY CZABALA
CHARLESTON — Friends and family gathered to celebrate the Presbyteral Ordination of Robert A. Spencer on July 11 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
During the ceremony the former U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer shed tears of emotion as he was ordained by Bishop David B. Thompson.
Spencer completed his theological studies at Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts in May under the sponsorship of the Diocese of Charleston and co-sponsorship of the Archdiocese of the Military Services.
As Bishop Thompson conferred the Rite of Ordination, he told Spencer to “teach what you believe and put into practice what you teach.” The Bishop said Spencer is to strive to lead the people through Christ and the Holy Spirit to God, the father.
Bishop John J. Glynn of the Military Archdiocese concelebrated with priests from the Diocese of Charleston and the Archdiocese of the Military Services. Each concelebrant came forward to lay hands on Spencer in a gesture of fellowship with the newly ordained priest. As they did this, Spencer softly brushed tears away from his face. He said his emotions got the best of him at this poignant step in the ceremony. His anxiety and nervousness quickly waned, however, as he knelt before the attending priests.
Spencer was then vested by his brother, Father F. Richard Spencer of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The two brothers embraced briefly in front of the crowd gathered at the Cathedral.
Afterwards, the reception, sponsored by the Charleston Deanery South Carolina Council of Catholic Women, was an outpouring of love
and appreciation for Spencer’s dedicated service and friendship. The newly ordained priest was surrounded by
congratulatory thoughts and hugs and friends wishing to receive his blessing. His exhilaration and excitement endured as the line of friends and patrons grew.
The following day, July 12, Spencer celebrated his first Mass at Blessed Sacrament in Charleston. His first assignment for the Diocese of Charleston is at Christ Our King Parish in Mount Pleasant.
Spencer will spend three years ministering to the people of the Diocese of Charleston, and then will be eligible to serve as a military chaplain.