Priesthood Class of 2020
Archbishop Gregory ordains eight new priests and new deacon for Archdiocese of Washington
Jun 20, 2020
Ordaining eight new priests and one new deacon for the Archdiocese of Washington, Archbishop Wilton Gregory encouraged them to witness to Christ’s truth.
“Today you begin living a truth that will empower you to serve the Church with all of your heart,” Washington’s archbishop said at their June 20 Mass of Ordination at St. Catherine Labouré Church in Wheaton, Maryland, noting that on that day they were beginning “a new life in and for the Lord.”
Archbishop Gregory noted how Jesus at the Last Supper had prayed for the Apostles, the first priests, with the words, “Consecrate them in truth,” and he said that is the prayer that the archdiocese has for its newest clergy and for all its deacons and priests.
“Deacons and priests are men who must live the truth, seek the truth, preach the truth, love the truth and long for the day when we all will know the truth,” the archbishop said. “God’s Spirit assures the Church that we will possess the truth and that possession will make us all free. Christ Himself of course is the Truth as he called Himself.”
The eight new priests whom Archbishop Gregory ordained are Father Patrick Agustin, Father Nathanael Anderson, Father James Glasgow, Father Jeremy Hammond, Father Emanuel Lucero, Father James Morrison, Father Francisco Rodriguez and Father Stefan Yap.
Also during the Mass, the archbishop ordained Deacon Nicholas Morrison, a transitional deacon who is studying for the priesthood and who is the brother of Father James Morrison. Their younger brother, Danny Morrison, is also a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington.
The Mass was originally scheduled to be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., but since the District of Columbia had not yet eased its restrictions on the size of public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ordination was instead held in the church in Montgomery County, which that week had joined other Maryland jurisdictions in allowing public worship to resume in churches.
People in the congregation wore facemasks as a safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus, as did the more than 40 priests concelebrating the Mass, along with Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville, Roy Campbell Jr., and Michael Fisher. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the retired archbishop of Washington, was in attendance, as were family members of the new priests who sat in different sections of pews to maintain social distances.
As he gave his homily, Archbishop Gregory sat in a chair placed before the altar, and he faced the nine men he was about to ordain. He told them that living by the truth that comes from the Holy Spirit will empower them to live holy lives in imitation of Christ and in service to the Church and face the challenges that come their way.
Archbishop Gregory encouraged them to be men of prayer as they serve the people entrusted to them.
“My sons, the Church will soon come alive for you in the faces and through the voices of the people that you will encounter. The elderly and sick, the young and joyful, the grieving and confused, the couples and young adults who will fill your lives must also become the very images of the Church for which you must pray daily,” he said.
The next day was Father’s Day, when many of the new priests would be celebrating their first Masses, and the archbishop noted, “Today, people will begin calling those of you who are ordained as priests, father, even though you have embraced a life of perpetual chaste celibate love for the Church. You will become a father for people who are many years your senior, for people that you hardly even now know, for people who have very little reason to trust you or to accept your desire to care for them because you will represent Christ for them and that alone will be sufficient.”
Archbishop Gregory asked them never to violate the trust that people place in them, because that can even cause others to lose their faith in God. And he encouraged them to let their joy be evident as they carry out their ministry, as a “sign that you know and love the God that you serve.”
In his homily, the archbishop also asked them to preach with conviction, to inspire people to believe in and live by God’s word. He told the men he was about to ordain priests that they would enter “a very personal relationship with the Eucharist today. From this day forward, the Lord Jesus will commit Himself to use your voice, your hands, indeed, your very body to make His Body and Blood available for the people of God.”
And he told those men about to become priests that they should be “compassionate and forgiving confessors that Christ calls you to be,” as they forgive the sins of others and comfort them in the name of Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, always mindful of their own weaknesses and sinfulness and their need for the sacrament.
During the Mass, Archbishop Gregory several times addressed the young men as “brothers,” and in his homily he noted they would become members of the clergy of Washington. Describing that fraternity, he said they were “a diverse group of men who are novices and experienced, native sons of this local Church and recent arrivals from other lands and cultures. We are veterans and neophytes, adventurous and cautious, but all are ordained ministers of Jesus Christ summoned together through the Sacrament of Orders to carry out the mission given to us by the Lord Himself.”
Also in his homily, the archbishop told the men that day their relationship would change, as they make promises of obedience and respect to him and his successors. “I become your father, your brother, and hopefully, even your friend,” he said. “Together by listening to, loving and appreciating one another, we will build up the Church in charity and in truth, as is the desire of Christ Himself.”
The Ordination Mass included many powerful moments, especially as one-by-one, the candidates knelt silently before Archbishop Gregory, and he laid hands on their heads, ordaining the eight new priests and one new deacon for the archdiocese. The other priests and bishops participating in the Ordination Mass then also laid hands on the heads of the new priests.
Moments earlier, the candidates for ordination lay prostrate before the altar, as the litany of saints was chanted. After Deacon Nicholas Morrison was ordained, the archbishop placed the Book of the Gospels in his hands, signifying his ministry of preaching God’s word. The new deacon was vested with a stole and chasuble by his older brother Deacon James Morrison, who would soon be ordained to the priesthood.
In addition to the laying on of hands, the ordination of the eight new priests also included their investiture of the stole and chasuble, and newly ordained Father James Glasgow was vested by his older brother, Father Brendan Glasgow, who was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington last year and now serves as a parochial vicar at St. Peter’s Parish on Capitol Hill.
Archbishop Gregory also anointed the hands of each new priest with chrism, and as those men individually knelt before him, he placed a chalice and paten in their hands, symbolizing their new ministry of celebrating the Eucharist at Mass. The archbishop and some of the priests then offered a sign of peace to the new priests.
Moments later, the eight new priests of the Archdiocese of Washington stood at the altar with Archbishop Gregory and joined him in consecrating the Eucharist. During Communion, the new priests wore face masks as they distributed the Eucharist to those attending the Ordination Mass.
The archdiocese’s newest priests, who before their ordination were profiled in the Catholic Standard newspaper and in a special online series on the Catholic Standard website, come from different backgrounds but shared the same call to serve Christ and the Church of Washington as new priests.
Father James Morrison, whose brother Nicholas was ordained a deacon that morning, and Father James Glasgow, whose older brother, also a priest, vested him, both grew up in the archdiocese and both men credited the witness of his family’s faith as helping to inspire his vocation. Father Patrick Agustin and Father Stefan Yap each grew up in devout Filipino Catholic families and were also inspired by participating in the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland, and Father Agustin received his calling to the priesthood while working for Sony Pictures in Hollywood.
Father Nathanael Anderson became Catholic after working on Capitol Hill and then felt called to be a priest.
Father Francisco Rodriguez, a New Jersey native, felt the call to priesthood while attending World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005, and Father Jeremy Hammond, another New Jersey native, felt the call to priesthood during World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, in 2008. Both are involved in the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement dedicated to adult and family formation, as is Father Emanuel Lucero, a former blacksmith from Argentina who felt Jesus calling him to go on a mission as a priest.
In his closing remarks, Archbishop Gregory offered special thanks to the families of the new priests and new deacon, as he did at the beginning of Mass and in his homily, and he encouraged them to continue to offer love and support to them. And the archbishop offered special thanks to Father Francisco Aguirre, the pastor of St. Catherine Labouré, and to the parish for “allowing their church to become our cathedral today.”
Behind the church’s altar, a dramatic stained glass window that is several stories high depicts Mary appearing to St. Catherine Labouré, a 19th century French nun who was a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. The Marian visionary said the Blessed Mother asked her to promote the Miraculous Medal devotion.
That window behind the altar served as a backdrop as the archdiocese’s eight newest priests stood together at the end of Mass and offered their first blessing to the congregation, which responded with joyful applause.
As the new priests and new deacon processed from the altar, they were again greeted with applause, as they smiled and stepped forward to begin their new lives of service.