Ordination: A Morning of Joy and Thanksgiving!

BRIDGEPORT—“We come here with great joy and thanksgiving for the gift of these three men,” said Bishop Caggiano at the beginning of this morning’s ordination at St. Augustine Cathedral.

A day that began with torrential rain opened into clear skies and the transparent happiness of almost 700 family, friends, and priests who celebrated the ordination of Harry Prieto, José Vasquez, and Timothy Iannacone.

Following mass hundreds lined up under a large white tent alongside the historic cathedral to receive the First Blessing of the three young priests and enjoy refreshments.

In his homily, Bishop Caggiano reflected on the “profound mystery of the priesthood” in which the priest becomes “the chosen vessel of grace” to those he is called to serve.

“No one decides to become a priest,” said the bishop. “A man discerns what is stirring in his heart–a stirring not of his own making, but of the Lord’s.”

Noting that the ordination fell on the solemnity of the nativity of Saint John the Baptist, whose voice was crying out in the wilderness, the bishop told the new priests, “You have been configured to Christ to provide his Word in a world become a wilderness, a world going cold with no place for God.”

“Preach fearlessly and live what you preach,” he exhorted. “Do not compromise the truth.”

All three men answered, “present” when called forward to begin the ordination ceremony. Each candidate knelt before the bishop for the Laying on of Hands. They then affirmed a series of resolves and promises as they begin their lives as priests.

Their affirmation was followed by thunderous and prolonged applause from the congregation, which also broke into cheers again when the newly ordained recessed out of the Church at the end of the Mass.

In the most dramatic moment of the ordination, the three men lie prostrate in front of the altar while the congregation kneels to sing the Litany of Saints.

After the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination, the newly ordained stood before the altar and were vested with a stole and chasuble.

During the anointing of hands the bishop prays over each man, “The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, guard and preserve you, that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God.” They then join him to concelebrate Mass.

The Liturgy of the Word was read in English and Spanish. Both Fr. Prieto and Fr. Vasquez Romero are natives of Colombia. Fr. Iannacone was born in Stamford and grew up in Norwalk.

Fr. Francisco Gomez-Franco, pastor of St. Charles Parish in Bridgeport, served as Master of Ceremonies.
Samuel A Schmitt, Cathedral Director of Sacred Music and Organist, led the music ministry, which also included The St. Augustine Schola Cantorum and The Tolle Lege Singers.

After Mass the Bishop thanked all those who joined in the formation of the young priests, in particular their parents and families. “You wouldn’t be here without them,” he said to applause from the gathering.

All three priests will celebrate their First Mass tomorrow, June 25. Father Vasquez Romero will celebrate his at Assumption Parish at 12 noon. Father Thomas Thorne, Assumption’s pastor, will give the homily. Father Iannacone will celebrate at St. Mary’s in Norwalk at 9:30 , with Father Edward J. Enright, OSA, associate professor of religious and theological studies at Merrimack College, giving the homily. Father Prieto will celebrate his first Mass in his home parish of St. Joseph in Danbury on at 12 noon. Father Samuel Scott, St. Joseph’s pastor, will deliver the homily.


Pictures by Amy Mortensen