Be a 'Good Shepherd'

The following is the homily given by the Most Rev. Martin D. Holley for the ordination to the priesthood of Deacon Andrew Davy, MIC, at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Gaithersburg, Md., on May 30, 2009:

My dear son in Christ, Deacon Andrew Davy, we are gathered here on this joyful occasion with your family. Your mother and father, siblings, other relatives, and friends, along with your religious family community, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, to pray for you, and to pray with you; that God may strengthen you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In a few moments from, you will be ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, as a Presbyter of Jesus Christ, by the laying on of hands; and your hands will be consecrated in order that you might fulfill your sacred duties.

As I was honored to have ordained you to the transitional diaconate, not too long ago, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the privilege of inviting me to ordain you as a priest. You and your brothers, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, are very special to me, since I share with all of you a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and a devotion for spreading the message of Divine Mercy, from which came my Episcopal Motto, "His Mercy Endures Forever."

It is my hope that you will remember this day with great joy for the rest of your life, by giving thanks to God, as you have opened your heart once again to God's manifold grace working within you, and through you, to witness to the power of Christ love and grace in the world by your Marian spirituality and your devotion to spread the message of Divine Mercy.

It is also my personal prayer that through your example, God will continue to call many more young men to consider the priesthood.

In the reading from Jeremiah, we are reminded that it is God Himself who has called and chosen you from the first moment that you were in your mother's womb, to serve Him and minister to His people. You eventually recognized His call, and like the Blessed Virgin Mary who responded in humility and generosity by saying "Yes" to God the Father, so have you now followed her example.

It was your parents who gave you the name, Andrew, which signifies strength, and who was the brother of St. Peter. May your faith and witness to the mercy and love of God in Christ Jesus, strengthen you for the rest of your priesthood.

As St. Timothy reminds us in the second reading today, let no one look down upon you because of your youthfulness, but be a continuing example of love, faith purity, devoted to the reading of scripture, preaching and teaching.

Let your duties absorb you, and be conscience of yourself and your teaching at all times, depending on the grace of God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Lord's Divine Mercy.

And like your founder, Blessed Stanislaus Papcyznski ... continue to be an Apostle of Mercy, by your preaching and teaching, and through your love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and your prayers for the Souls in Purgatory.

At the heart of your ministry keep always on your lips and teach others the 'Prayer through the Intercession of Blessed Stanislaus Papcznski:

Our Lord and God, in consideration of Your Servant, Blessed Stanislaus, who, in spite of many obstacles, trusting in the help of Your Providence, faithfully followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, and His Mother, Conceived Immaculate, grant us this grace that we may be marked by an unwavering trust in Your omnipotence, goodness, and faithfulness, especially when you lead us upon a thorny road towards the glorious promises of Your love.

Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

The world needs this loving message, which is especially for our young people who struggle with being in the world and not a part of the world.

Take for your example what we hear from Jesus in the Gospel of St. John, when He says, "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me in the same way the Father knows me and I know the Father; for this sheep I will give my life."

In your ministry, especially to your young people, continue to reach out to them always welcoming them back to the fold, as a good shepherd who cares deeply for his sheep. But above all, may the Blessed Virgin Mary, be your model, as one of humble service, who like her Son, Jesus Christ, came to serve, and not be served.

My Son, Deacon Andrew, know that you will always be in my prayers, and in the prayers of your parents, family, relatives and friends, but most importantly, you will always have the prayers, love and support of your brothers of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

From now on, for the rest of your life, pray every Mass, as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.

May you always remember that "HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER."

Beloved brothers and sisters: because our son, who is your relative and friend, is now to be advanced to the order of priest, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which he is about to be raised. It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ.

Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in His name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church.

For Christ was sent by the Father and He in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation, our brother is now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry His body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple. In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, he will be consecrated as a true priest of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God's people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord's sacrifice.

Now, dear son, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.

In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your life be a delightful fragrance to Christ's faithful, so that by word and example you may be build up the house which is God's Church.

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments.

As celebrant of the mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in the newness of life.

Remember, when you gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and when you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance, when you comfort the sick with holy oil and celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world-remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God.

Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but those of Jesus Christ.

Finally, dear son, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.

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