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I was at a priesthood ordination Saturday. It was a fine celebration capping one man's long journey to the priesthood. What struck me in a profound way was that though the event, the day, could have been focused on this one man, it wasn't. It was clear through the actual ceremony and even in the celebration at the parish hall after the ordination Mass that the focus was on the community, the church, the body and people of God.
Mark was accepting a call to the priesthood that he heard coming from the community of believers around him. This idea of the call coming from the community and that the call meant to be of service to the community was clearly evident.
That call from community was symbolized in the congregation's applause of consent and it was ritualized in the Litany of the Saints. Invoking the "cloud of witnesses" is, I think, one of the most powerful prayers in our church.
The second reading was taken from Ephesians 4: "Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. … And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to the extent of the full stature of Christ."
All the People of God are gifted, each in her or his own way. Using our gifts together we attain unity and mature understanding of the Christ.
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The bishop's instruction to Mark contained this line: "May there be no one in your ministry whose feet you do not wash." This is a profound acknowledgement of what it means to be a servant for the community. Sometimes your service is rejected or at least unwanted. But it does not lessen your obligation to serve.
I don't want to equate NCR's call to serve the people of God with the sacrament of holy orders, but I do take seriously the call we have received. NCR has a unique call to service, to use the tools of journalism to tell the story of the People of God. Your gifts to us over the last week will enable us to continue this service. Thank you.
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