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Catholic Voice
  May 23, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 10   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Ordained May 13, Revs. John Erick Villa, Luis Lopez and John Carillo.
CHRISTOPHER SILVA/THE CATHOLIC VOICE

'We need to be touched by the hands of the Savior'


Most Rev.
Michael C. Barber, SJ

[Editor's note: This was Bishop Barber's homily at the ordination Mass May 13.]

Dear brothers, there are two special characteristics of your ordination to the priesthood this evening:

• You are being ordained in the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy.

• You are being ordained on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

First, the Year of Mercy:

You are being ordained into a presbyterate, a college of priests — united with a bishop. We are part of a diocese, composed of 500,000 souls: some are moving ahead, some lagging behind.

Some are committed disciples of Jesus, some are lost, some are searching for meaning in life: This is our diocese of Oakland.

There have been many outpourings of Mercy in this Holy Year in our diocese: Mercy, coming from the Heart of Christ, passing through the hearts of our people, to comfort those suffering and in need:

 
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1. Catholic Charities: taking care of refugees and victims of human trafficking.

2. St. Vincent de Paul: serving hot meals and showers.

3. Catholic Worker: providing sleeping bags to those homeless on our streets, serving hot coffee and breakfast.

4. Parish youth groups, eighth-graders and Confirmation classes: visiting the lonely and praying with them in rest homes. Making sandwiches for the hungry! Serving pancakes and coffee with the Knights of Columbus in their parish hall ...

We have tremendous, good people, in our diocese.

All those works are good. By performing them we show people GOD IS REAL, and that the Church is HIS Instrument, His body.

But, all those good works, good as they are, ... are not enough.

Why? Because we cannot save ourselves. It's not about us.

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves, as your slaves, for Jesus' sake!"

We need a Savior. We need to be touched by the hands of the Savior. We ARE touched by the Savior: through the hands of a priest: through the sacraments of the Church.

Jesus affirmed this when he said:

"He who believes and is baptized will be saved."

"Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them!"

"Take this and eat: This is my body. Do this in memory of me!"

Yesterday, at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon, I joined over 75 priests and lay ministers for a day devoted to youth ministry. A teenager, 17-years-old, got up and gave us a testimony of his faith. His name was Jethro. He told us:

"I want to acknowledge the priests, because you all play a huge role. Going to youth nights and being proud of being Catholic is wonderful, but what is faith without people to lead us to the sacraments? So I just want to thank you priests for saying "Yes" to God and being His instruments. Thank you for showing us the living Christ in Communion and showing us His grace in Reconciliation. Thank you for washing us of our sins through Baptism and gifting us with the Holy Spirit through Confirmation. I'm not married yet, but thank you for uniting a couple in Christ through matrimony. Without you, I know many of teens' faiths wouldn't be where it is today. …

"Thank you for showing us the face of God."

A 17-year-old boy said this! I think he was inspired, and speaking on behalf of all the 500,000 souls in our diocese.

Our people need you. They need what only YOU can bring them.

I've been administering lots of Confirmations lately to high school students. Many of the candidates choose their favorite saints for their Confirmation names:

One girl chose "Cecilia" because she liked music.

Another girl chose "Joan of Arc." I asked her if she was joining the Army. She said no … Air Force!

One boy chose St. Vitus. I asked him "Who was St. Vitus?" He said "He's patron saint of comedians." I said "Are you a wise guy?"

One lad chose St. Paul. I asked him why. He said, "I studied his life. He spent half his life running away from God and he was against the Church. Then he turned and came back to Jesus. That describes my life, Bishop."

Fathers, that teenager "Paul" like original St. Paul, needs you to be there when he comes looking for the Good Shepherd.

You are being ordained on Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. You are being ordained under the mantle of Mary's love. Mary's love has power.

Thirty-five years ago today, on May 13, 1981, a would-be assassin fired shots at Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square. As the pope said later: One hand fired the gun, but another hand guided the bullet. John Paul II said that Mary saved his life.

That bullet, dug out of his chest, just missing his major artery, is now part of the crown on Mary's head at the shrine of Fatima. Pope John Paul II brought it to her in thanksgiving.

Mary is mother of priests. Call on her when you need help. Help for yourself. Or help for your people.

May her maternal love forever protect you, our beloved new priests.

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