Next week we will be celebrating the ordination of seven new priests for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It was 25 years ago that Fr. Bené was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese and we will celebrate that anniversary with him this weekend. I specified that these ordinations are for the Archdiocese because it is not unusual for someone to ask at times what religious order I belong to and I respond to them that I don’t belong to any order, I am a diocesan priest.
Religious orders, like the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Dominicans, or the Benedictines, are ordained for their order and to serve the Church in the way that order has determined. They vow obedience to their religious superiors. This service may be particularly for the poor, in mission territories, in education, or many other ways. A diocesan priest is ordained to serve the people of that diocese, and specifically promises obedience to the bishop of that diocese and to his successors. This most often results in a diocesan priest serving at a parish, or sometimes in diocesan offices, like Fr. Bené and I have been doing.
In Fr. Bené’s 25 years as a priest for the Archdiocese he has not only served at parishes here in the archdiocese, and in the diocesan office at the Tribunal, but he has also served outside of our diocese. He served at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York and at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the Vatican. Sometimes the archbishop asks priests to serve the universal Church in these special assignments that have them living outside of our archdiocese. After all, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and most of our recent popes were diocesan priests.
The seven priests being ordained this coming week are being ordained to serve us here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. As they had the listings in the Archdiocesan newspaper last week, the Review, saying where priests are being moved throughout the archdiocese, so in two weeks they will list the parishes where the newly ordained are going to be assigned to serve. In the future they may have ideas of what they will do and where they will go, most likely to other parishes throughout the archdiocese as they have been ordained to serve here, but they don’t know where the archbishop will ask them to go now, or in the future.
As we celebrate Fr. Bené’s 25th Anniversary I thank him for the many ways he has responded to serve our Archdiocese and the Church, and pray for his continued service, particularly here at St. Joseph’s.