Saturday, May 19 was a beautiful, sun-filled day. But even if there had been a roaring hurricane, it would have been a beautiful day inside the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, because that was the date and place where six men, after years of study and discernment, received ordination to the priesthood at the hands of Archbishop Charles Chaput in the presence of five bishops, more than 100 priests, and a throng of joyous friends and proud relatives.
Through the solemn laying on of the hands and the prayer of ordination by Archbishop Chaput, Daniel J. Dwyer, Anthony R. Hangholt, Robert A. Ianelli, John P. Masson, Timothy J. McGuire and Thomas P. Whittingham, became priests of the Roman Catholic Church and in that their lives forever changed.
“…Together with us, may they be faithful stewards of your mysteries,” the Archbishop prayed, “so that your people may be renewed in the waters of the earth and nourished from your altar, so that sinners may be reconciled and the sick raised up. May they be joined with us Lord in restoring your mercy to people entrusted to their care as well.”
In his homily before the ordination ceremony, the Archbishop quoted from St. Paul’s instruction in the first reading, Acts 20:28: “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that He acquired with His own blood.”
But even as there were men in the Church at the time of Paul perverting the Word of God, “If that was true in those times it is true in our time,” the Archbishop said. One of the things you need to commit yourself to today is absolute fidelity to the Word of God, to protect that as a treasure received from God.”
The age-old ritual was filled with dramatic “moments,” the awe-inspiring Litany of supplication which thundered down on the prostrated candidates immediately before the actual ordination, the investiture, the anointing of the hands, and the fraternal kiss from all the clergy present.
Yet the reality of Holy Orders really came to fruition in the liturgy of the Eucharist that followed, as Philadelphia’s six newest priests joined their Archbishop and the assembled clergy in concelebrating; turning the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Also on that day the six new priests learned which particular vineyard would be their first assignment.
Father Dwyer, who is originally from St. Gabriel Parish in South Philadelphia and as a deacon was assigned to Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Warminster, was assigned to St. Timothy Parish in Philadelphia.
There is justice in this; Father Ianelli is a son of St. Timothy’s; his deacon assignment was at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Buckingham and now he will serve at St. Philip Neri Parish in Lafayette Hill.
If Father Ianelli just left Our Lady of Guadalupe, you might say he’s been replaced there by Father Hangholt, who served his deacon year at St. Aloysius Parish in Pottstown. His home parish is Holy Saviour in Linwood.
Father Masson, whose home parish is St. Agnes in West Chester, was assigned to St. Bede Parish in Holland as a deacon; now he will minister at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Warminster.
Father McGuire, who is from St. Philomena Parish in Lansdowne, served as deacon at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Morrisville; his priestly assignment is to St. Albert the Great Parish in Huntingdon Valley.
Father Whittingham grew up in Tennessee and came to Philadelphia to attend the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he was active in the Newman Club. His deacon assignment was St. Patrick Parish in Norristown, and his first assignment as a priest is at Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish in North Wales.
Their personal reaction was unanimous –thanks and gratitude to God and to their families.