ORLANDO | Three very different men, united by the same commitment to lead the people of God, became priests in the Order of Melchizedek, May 27, 2023, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Father Ángel García, Father Zachary Parker and Father Edgar Serrano now look forward to sharing their gifts as shepherds of the body of Christ.
Each struggled with the decision to become a priest for various reasons.
Puerto Rican-born Father Ángel García, of Holy Redeemer Parish, Kissimmee, recalled drifting from Catholicism for a time. But something was missing. “I realized it was the Eucharist and He brought me back to the Catholic faith,” he said. His anticipation reflected the nine years of formation which “led (him) to this day.”
Planning a career in music with the military, Father Zachary Parker’s vocation came from meeting other young adults with “an amazing love for Jesus.” That witness led Father Parker to the priesthood. Despite almost losing his father, and the death of his brother, he felt God’s presence, never losing faith. He said, “It’s amazing to be at this place in this moment of my life where God is inviting me to offer everything to Him, as He gives all of Himself to me.” Father Parker’s home parish is Church of the Epiphany in Port Orange.
Born in Colombia, Father Edgar Serrano was a Jehovah’s Witness. After the death of his father, he found the love of God in the Catholic Church. He desired to become a priest, but thought he was too old. It was the insight of Father Ivan Olmo that encouraged him. The St. Mary Parish, Rockledge, parishioner expressed his gratitude for all of the prayers and support that enabled his journey to the priesthood.
On May 27, each fulfilled the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the anointing that allows them to abandon themselves to the Lord.
In his homily, at the Ordination of these three men, Bishop John Noonan reminded them, “Your ‘Yes’, is a surrender of self to allow yourself to be found by God and to be led by God.” He said that surrender led them to what Pope Francis called, in his recent Chrism Mass homily, “a second anointing”. “An anointing that penetrates to the depths of our reality, where the Spirit anoints our weaknesses, our weariness, our inner poverty. An anointing that brings a new fragrance: that of the Spirit, not of ourselves,” Pope Francis said.
The bishop noted, “Priesthood is a mission to bring Christ to others. It is always an extraordinary experience of love and surrender.”
He addressed the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, where Jeremiah pleads with God claiming he is too young and does not know how to speak. “Have no fear because the Lord will always be with you,” the bishop told the three men. “The Lord extended His hands and touched the lips of Jeremiah saying, ‘See I place My words in your mouth.’ After nine years of rigorous study, spiritual guidance, and pastoral solicitude, Deacons Ángel, Zachary, and Edgar, I do not think you are too young or afraid to be ordained. I pray that the Lord will touch your lips so that you too will preach the Word of God to all of God’s people.”
He said it is a great gift to be chosen to care for God’s flock, to devote themselves fully as fathers and shepherds of their people — it is “the vitality of every priest.”
In keeping with this theme, the bishop reminded them there is no ego in the priestly ministry as it is “dangerous and destructive.” They must be reminded their gift of priesthood is a grace bestowed by the Holy Spirit, and that without that grace — the other virtues have no value whatsoever.” He shared the importance of understanding this, that they might help one another; they must preserve harmony — beginning with themselves as an example. In light of the divisive world in which we live, he said they must consider their words, comments, what they say and write — asking if they are the seal of the Spirit or that of the world?
Sharing his immense gratitude the bishop said, “Thank you. Thank you for your witness and for your service. Thank you for the hidden good you do, and for the forgiveness and consolation that you bestow in God’s name. Always forgive, please, do not withhold forgiveness. Thank you for your ministry, which is often carried out with great effort, with little recognition and is not always understood.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, June 1, 2023