Ordination '97

By Bishop George Murry, SJ

Bp Murry

Company invited Bp. George Murry, SJ, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, to reflect on his role as ordaining prelate for three Jesuits ordained this June in Cleveland. Seventeen other Jesuits were ordained this summer in Mobile, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Spokane, St. Louis, Worcester, the Bronx, and Baltimore. Bp. Murry's words are a preface to the photographs and short biographies of these new Jesuit priests we present in this issue.

Eighteen years ago this June I was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop William Borders of Baltimore. I remember the day well, especially the moment when, following the ancient tradition, the archbishop imposed hands, designating me and my classmates as "other Christs," mandating us to continue the mission of the Lord through the sacramental ministry of the Church.

Since that day in 1979, much has happened. I have served in both pastoral and academic settings. I have prayed with friends and strangers. I have blessed newborn children whose faces embodied hope. I have carried to their resting places men and women from whom life had passed. Although, at times, the priesthood of Christ has been a heavy burden and although, at times, I have failed to place my trust in God, God has never failed to walk with me and strengthen me in the task of building his kingdom on earth.

On June 14, I celebrated a new ministry. On that day I had the privilege of ordaining three young Jesuits to the presbyterate. In the two years that I have been a bishop, I have ordained several Jesuits to the diaconate, but these three were the first priests. I freely admit a certain excitement. It is a great honor for me, as a Jesuit, to ordain men for ministry in the Society of Jesus. But it is also a truly humbling experience for the simple reason that through the instrumentality of the episcopal office, I will transfer to them the ability and the power to continue the efficacious work of salvation.

I hope these men know how much they are needed, not only by those whom they will serve but also by those of us who are older, at least in religion. They are needed and joyfully anticipated by all those faithful who seek God with a sincere heart. Across this country and throughout the world, men and women, young and old, are hungry for the faith. They yearn for words of life and hope, challenge and consolation. They yearn to know the person of Christ, who can open their eyes and their ears to see and hear the depth of love God has for them. Those who are faith-filled need these men to guide them, to support them, to model for them how we journey to God.

We who have ministered as priests for some years also need them, for they stand as living reminders of the joy and enthusiasm with which ministry should fill our lives. Recently, I concelebrated the funeral of a well-respected Chicago priest. As I listened to his classmates, now all in their 80s, what shone forth with clarity was that this man found great happiness in being a priest. That same happiness can be found in the eyes of those who were ordained this June, and those of us who are already priests need to see it. We need to see it because at times we can become overwhelmed by our various responsibilities; overwhelmed with trying to resolve every problem; overwhelmed with our halting ability to approach life with open hands. We need those newly ordained to remind us, again and again, that even in spite of ourselves God shines forth through us and sends us to be transparent images of Christ.

As I prepared for the priestly ordination of three Jesuit brothers, my mind kept going back to the old spiritual that my African-American ancestors often sang while marching from one prayer meeting to another:

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

May these new priests know that they will be for many the everlasting arms of God and may they always remain eager to lead us, all of us, along the path to him.

*** Photographs and short biographies of the newly-ordained Jesuits.
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