CEDAR KNOLLS Combined, the priest jubilarians in the Diocese celebrate 1,420 years in the priesthood. That is almost a millennium and a half of celebrating baptisms and marriages, healing in times of sadness or sickness, and giving the faithful Jesus in the Eucharist and Jesus’ forgiving love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In honor for these years of service to the Church and the Diocese, Bishop Serratelli presided at the annual Mass of Thanksgiving Jubilee Celebration for Priests in Notre Dame of Mount Carmel Church here June 2. The Mass honored 29 priests who serve as pastors, chaplains, missionaries and teachers.
Celebrating priesthood ordinations of 70, 65, 60, 50, 40 and 25 years, priests from across the diocese attended the Mass to honor their brother priests marking these significant milestones in their vocation. Bishop Emeritus Frank Rodimer and Benedictine Abbott Richard Cronin of St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown were concelebrants of the Mass.
Bishop Serratelli thanked the priests for being a vicar of God’s love to others. “We bring God’s love to others because we have experienced that great love in our own life and, most especially, in the gift of our priesthood. Today, as we come to celebrate the jubilees of so many of our priests, we do so with gratitude.”
Celebrating 40 years in the priesthood, Benedictine Father Jude Salus, who is also pastor of Notre Dame, was the homilist for the Mass. He dedicated his homily to the Blessed Mother. Father Jude told the congregation, “We should always be like the Blessed Mother. We should have three traits she possesses — to be available, vulnerable and expectant.”
“She makes us more available to make sure we give a little more time to speak out on what we believe and that we radiate into the Church of 2015 that we are alive in Christ and the people who hear us feel that joy and belief,” said Father Jude.
To his brothers priests, he spoke about being vulnerable. “We choose to be alone in that love for Christ. We make ourselves in our availability vulnerable by loving one stronger. Once we are that, we remind our people, we bring light when sometimes darkness is easier. We bring hope when things are hopeless. We make sense when others say it’s senseless. The Blessed Mother gives us the courage and strength to believe in something so much larger than ourselves. That expectancy brings us to that hope. That expectancy allows us to go forth and realize the power of that love. We celebrate that expectancy.”
Near the end of his homily, Father Jude said, “We celebrate Mary. She believes in us with her Son and begs us to believe in ourselves. She trusts us with her Son and begs us to trust. We have work to do and she always reminds us of her presence.” He closed his homily by leading the congregation in the “Hail Mary.”
Following the homily, Father Richard Bay, pastor of St. Simon Parish in Green Pond, called forth the jubilarians and presented them to the congregation. Then, the priest jubilarians made a renewal of commitment to priestly service before the Bishop to continue serving God’s people. At the end of the Mass, all the priests sang a Marian hymn to the Blessed Mother, “Salve Regina.”
Bishop Serratelli said, “These are great priests and these are giants of faith. Every age has its challenge and certainly the challenges we face today in bringing the Gospel to others, in serving others and in helping others come to the Church are great. God calls great men like yourselves to meet that challenge.”