Ordinations bring joy to families, faithful

By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

Three young men were ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Justin Rigali during a joy-filled liturgy, Saturday, May 21 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

“The Eucharistic sacrifice is the center and root of your whole priestly ministry,” the Cardinal told the three candidates in his homily immediately before the ordination. “After the Eucharist there is nothing more important than the ministry of reconciliation as exercised in the sacrament of penance,” he added.

Joining with the Cardinal for the priestly ordination of Kenneth C. Brabazon, David M. Friel and Christopher P. Landis were Auxiliary Bishops Daniel E. Thomas, Timothy C. Senior, John J. McIntyre and Michael J. Fitzgerald; retired Auxiliary Bishops Louis A. DeSimone and Robert P. Maginnis and many priests. {{more}}

The ceremony, which was beautifully supported by the Archdiocesan Choir of Philadelphia and the Cathedral Basilica Schola, was also attended by deacons, religious, seminarians and hundreds of family and friends.

“The joy that you bring to your families today is a sign of the joy that your ministry is intended to bring to the entire people of God,” the Cardinal told the candidates in his homily.

That joy was especially evidenced by the parents of the candidates who had a place of honor in a front- row pew of the Cathedral.

“We officially waited for this for eight years while he was in the seminary,” said Carmel Brabazon, mother of Father Kenneth Brabazon, “but we kind of knew when he was just a little guy. When he was five he asked if he could collect rosaries, and that was a sign. This is wonderful, wonderful and just a great day.” The family was planning to return to St. Barnabas Parish in Southwest Philadelphia to celebrate after the ordination, and of course, Father Brabazon’s first Mass the next day.

Father Friel’s father, John, remembers his son told him of his intentions to go to St. Charles the Christmas before he entered, but “my wife knew long before that,” he said. “He was always comfortable around the church, and he was hired as sacristan by Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Doylestown) when he was only 14.”

“I looked at him when he was five and I knew what he would be,” said his mother, Pat. “I’m honored, but this has always been about Dave and God, not about me. I’m proud of Dave, and I’m proud of all my children. I am so happy for him that he is doing what he wants to do.”

Ray Landis said of his son, Chris, “We knew since he was a junior in high school. We weren’t sure and asked him to go to college for a year first. He went to Dickinson and after a year told us. We knew he wouldn’t change his mind.”

“We’ve been looking forward to this day since the day he went into the seminary,” said Father Landis’ mother, Winnie. “We just can’t believe it is here; we are so excited.”

All three of the newly ordained priests were scheduled to celebrate what is traditionally known as a “First Mass” at their home parishes the following day.

Their true first Mass began minutes after Cardinal Rigali ordained them through the laying on of his hands and pronouncing the solemn words of the ritual. They joined him at the altar as concelebrants of the Mass, joined together with the other bishops and priests.

“I was excited and thinking how very blessed and fortunate I was to receive the priesthood with my family and friends here and all these priests of the Archdiocese here to welcome me into the fraternity of the priesthood,” said Father Landis after the ordination.

Father Friel expressed gratitude to the Cardinal and the seminary for the gift of his ordination, and said, “It’s a very joyful day for each one of us. A priest stands for the Gospel message in the midst of the world, and that is what I hope to do.”

Father Brabazon said he was most influenced “by the good priests I met in my parish and I wanted to be like them.” As for the day, “the ceremony was glorious, and the Cardinal’s homily was absolutely magnificent. It was beautiful how he said the most important function of our ministry is the celebration of Eucharist and after that the forgiveness of sins.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.