At a Mass in which he ordained nine new priests at St. Patrick’s Cathedral May 26, Cardinal Dolan spoke to them about a 16th century saint whose joy, love for Jesus and healing priestly ministry made him an ideal choice as the patron of their class.
St. Philip Neri, who was ordained in 1551, responded to the call to priesthood at a time when the Church of Rome was tottering and embattled, the cardinal said. Its leaders were being “blasted” for corruption and turpitude. The poor were being neglected and the sick abandoned. Young people had lost their allegiance to the faith.
In this environment, St. Philip Neri could easily have become crabby and cynical. Instead, he brought forward his own “magnetic personality,” and exuded joy with a smile and laugh that attracted people to Jesus. “His personality became a bridge, not a wall,” Cardinal Dolan said.
The saint’s love for Jesus became most evident at Masses and in the Holy Eucharist, the cardinal said. People stayed with him in his Forty Hours devotion to the Eucharist, and for festive walks that he would lead to the seven basilicas in the Eternal City. “He would tell them that they were walking with Mary and the saints of the Church,” Cardinal Dolan said.
St. Philip’s encouragement healed their souls. At one point, after he had read a biography of St. Francis Xavier, the famed Jesuit missionary, St. Philip asked to be sent to the missions of China and India. The Bishop of Rome responded by saying, “Your mission territory is Rome,” Cardinal Dolan said.
The cardinal had a similar message for the nine men he ordained on the feast of St. Philip Neri, May 26. “Your mission territory is New York,” he said.
“Look at what one priest did for Rome,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Think of what nine can do for New York.”
Five of the new priests were ordained to serve the Archdiocese of New York: Father Michael Connolly, Father Osvaldo Hernandez, Father Carlos Limongi, Father Louis Masi and Father Kareem Smith. Four were ordained for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: Father Mark-Mary Maximilian Ames, C.F.R., Father Francesco Gavazzi, C.F.R., Father Pierre Toussaint Guiteau, C.F.R., and Father Angelus Montgomery, C.F.R.
Seven of the men completed their formation for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie. Father Masi studied at Pontifical North American College in Rome, and Father Limongi studied at Theological College in Washington, D.C.
During the Mass, Cardinal Dolan thanked their family members, friends, neighbors, parishioners, seminary professors, priests, religious women and men, and the others filling the cathedral who helped them to pursue the call to ordination.
“Thank you for your generous receptivity to that gentle whisper from Jesus inviting you to serve him and His Church as a priest,” the cardinal said.
Dozens and dozens of priests joined Cardinal Dolan, the principal celebrant, and two other prelates, Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, a Bronx native who was ordained at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1953 and is now grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh, vicar for clergy in the archdiocese, as concelebrants. All the priests followed Cardinal Dolan in the laying on of hands during the Rite of Ordination, which began with the Election of the Candidates. Msgr. Peter Vaccari, the rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, testified to the worthiness of each for the priesthood and asked the cardinal to ordain them.
A moving moment near the end of the two-hour Mass came when the newly ordained gave Cardinal Dolan their first blessings. After the liturgy, the priests were stationed at the Lady Chapel and at altars throughout the cathedral, where they offered their blessings to family members and friends.
At the Altar of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Father Louis Masi delivered one of his first blessings to his older sister, Christina, 36. Speaking to CNY afterward, she said that she has always been proud of her brother. “He’ll be wonderful for the Church. He has an open heart. He never judges anyone,” she said.
Maria Martinez and her sister, Edelma Martinez, were among the many present in the Lady Chapel to receive first blessings from Father Kareem Smith, whom they both got to know through a young adults group in their parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in the Inwood section of Manhattan.
Maria said she enjoyed the spiritual talks that Father Smith gave. “He is always trying to bring you closer to Christ,” she said.
“In a world that has so many distractions, he’s always focusing on your call and bringing young people to Christ…He’s always there in good time and bad times, offering guidance and support and just being there.”
At the end of Mass, Rene Goldsmith said that she was “overwhelmed” to be present for the ordinations. The fraternity between Cardinal Dolan, the other priests and the newly ordained delivered a powerful message. “You see Jesus present there, and the Apostles,” she said.
Ms. Goldsmith said she and her husband, Bill Goldsmith, have witnessed the faithful service of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at St. Mary of the Assumption Friary in Newburgh, especially on the Jericho Walks the friars lead throughout the city. Their personal witness to everyone they encounter is inspiring to her.
“They’re feeding the people spiritually,” she said.