CHARLESTON—The Diocese of Charleston gained new priests on June 11.
Hundreds of people witnessed Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone ordain Fathers Philip S. Gillespie, Richard W. Jackson and Artur D. Przywara at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
During his homily, the bishop urged the new priests to live according to the message of the day’s readings.
Two of the readings, Ezekiel 34: 11-16 and Luke 15: 3-7, focused on the image of God as a shepherd for His people, and Jesus’ parable of the good shepherd.
“Strive to bring the faithful together in one family, and keep always before your eyes the example of the good shepherd,” he said. “Allow the Scriptures of this day to constantly encourage you and support you.”
Bishop Guglielmone reminded the men that the priesthood requires a commitment to a life of service.
“Love the people to whom you are sent to serve, search out the lost, and never exclude anyone from your love and concern,” he said. “Reach out to those who might never reach out to you, and forgive those who might not forgive you.”
The three prostrated themselves before the altar during the Litany of Supplication, then the bishop laid hands on them and prayed. Their hands were anointed, and they each received their stole and chasuble. More than 20 priests who attended the ordination also laid hands on the three men and prayed.
After the ceremony, Bishop Guglielmone called the men by their new title of Father and they stood to applause from the congregation.
“Sounds good, doesn’t it? Thanks to almighty God for the gifts of priesthood and vocations. It is a wonderful blessing for the diocese to have three new priests,” he said.
The bishop thanked their families, seminary instructors, fellow priests and friends who helped them through their journey to the priesthood.
“God calls but it doesn’t make a difference if we don’t answer,” he said. “Continue to work and pray that people will hear the call to priesthood. The church and the Diocese of Charleston need you desperately.”
The newly ordained celebrated with family, friends and well-wishers at a reception in the Cathedral parish hall.
Several of Father Przywara’s family members, including his mother and sister, flew from Poland for his consecration into sacred ministry.
“We’re extremely happy and thankful to God that this day could happen,” said Ilona Przywara, his sister.
“The road was pretty long for Artur to get to the priesthood,” she said. “We are thankful to God’s mercy and to the people here who have given him such great support. We are his family, but we live in another country, and these people here now are like his family. Our main word to sum up this day is gratitude.”
“I feel so happy my mom and my family are with me, and they can share this joy with me,” Father Przywara said. “I feel such joy that now I can serve the people here in South Carolina.”
Several generations of Father Jackson’s relatives came from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Washington and other states to see his ordination.
They said his background, including a career in the military and work as a public defender, will help him in his priestly ministry.
“It was a big surprise when he chose this, but we’re thrilled for him,” said Karen Bernard, Father Jackson’s cousin from Janesville, Wis. “He’s an awesome person and has had so many life experiences that will help him reach out to the people he serves.”
Father Jackson’s nephew, Bryce Jackson of Orlando, Fla., said becoming a priest was his uncle’s passion come true.
“I’m so proud of the work he’s gone through to get to this point,” he said.
Father Jackson said he was especially happy to be ordained during the Year of the Priest and on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, which fell on June 11.
“It’s fantastic. I’m excited and ready to go to work,” he said.
Members of Father Gillespie’s family traveled from his home state of Pennsylvania.
“He’s put a lot of work into this and his family is very proud of him,” said his brother, Michael Gillespie, who lives in Harrisburg.
Father Gillespie said he was overwhelmed, an emotion he has felt during all stages of his vocation.
“This feels like the beginning,” he said. “This whole journey has been a series of new beginnings.”
The men celebrated their first Masses over the weekend. Father Przywara’s was on June 13 at St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville.
Father Jackson celebrated the 4 p.m. Mass on June 12 at his home parish of St. Mary in Laurinburg, N.C., and Father Gillespie celebrated the 11:15 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral on June 13.
Ordaining three priests is “a blessing and a great assistance to the diocese,” said Father Richard D. Harris, vicar general for the diocese.
Growth in the diocese, however, requires a focus on increasing vocations in the future, he said.
According to a recent study, 11 new seminarians would need to be accepted each fall in order to maintain the status quo, the vicar general said.
The diocese has accepted five new seminarians to begin formation next year, and three men are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in 2011.