Just two days shy of the first anniversary of his ordination as bishop and installation in Oakland, the Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, ordained three men to the priesthood.
And while they are not connected to a religious order, he told them their vocations have attributes of all of them.
"Religious orders come and go: springing up to meet a particular need of the Church in a particular era — then dissolve and disappear when that need no longer exists," he said. "But the diocesan priest must meet the needs of all the faithful and at all times."
"You young men, as parish priests, will be serving on the front lines of the Church. People will come to your church bringing all life's worries and concerns. And your tool box to help them is the altar, the pulpit, the confessional — and your warm handshake at the door when Mass is over."
The bishop acknowledged the families who provided these priests, honoring especially a mother who did not live to see her son ordained, as well as a mother who could not travel from Vietnam to see her son ordained. She was watching on the Internet, the bishop said.
More than 100 priests from the Diocese of Oakland and others who have known the three during their formation to the priesthood joined in the celebration. Each priest laid hands on the newly ordained at one point during the rite; later, each would offer the kiss of peace, some offering hearty embraces and others kissed the hands of the newly ordained.
At the end of the two-hour rite, the bishop announced the first assignments for the new priests, then knelt at the altar to receive the first blessing from each of them.
There would be more blessings at the reception after Mass, as long lines of family, friends and parishioners awaited the new Father Le, Father Perez and Father Pham.
Ordination Class 2014 is 15% Latino with many from Catholic schools
WASHINGTON — The 2014 class of men ordained to the priesthood includes 15 percent Hispanic/Latino. This reflects a gradual increase of Hispanic/Latino priests in the U.S. church over decades, but is about half the percentage of Hispanics in the Catholic Church in the U.S. overall.
Catholic education stands out as a strong factor in the background of the new priests, with half having attended a Catholic elementary school, 41 percent a Catholic high school and 45 percent, a Catholic college.
The median age of the new priests is 32, with the youngest 25 and the oldest 70.
The Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate gathered the data for "The Class of 2014: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood." CARA collected the data annually for the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. About 77 percent of the estimated 477 potential ordinands in 2014 responded to the study.
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, chair of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, found the data encouraging and challenging.
"The number of new priests remains steady and the quality of the new priests is stellar. They have a solid educational background to minister in the contemporary U.S. church," he said. "However, we need more priests and we need them especially from the Hispanic community. The U.S. Bishops in general and the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations in particular continue to keep both these goals as top priorities. We encourage all the faithful to pray for these special intentions."
Among the survey's major findings:
• Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth, although 9 percent became Catholic later in life.
• More than half completed college (54 percent) before entering the seminary.
• Over a quarter (26 percent) carried educational debt when they entered the seminary, averaging a little over $21,000.
• Six in 10 ordinands (60 percent) report some type of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education.
• About 7 in 10 ordinands report regularly praying the rosary (68 percent) and participating in Eucharistic adoration (70 percent) before entering the seminary.
• A third of ordinands first considered a vocation to priesthood in elementary school. About a quarter first considered a vocation in high school. One in five first considered this in college. Diocesan ordinands are more likely to have considered priesthood in high school, while religious ordinands are slightly more likely to have first considered this during their college years.
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