(Click here for Bishop John Noonan’s homily during the priest ordination May 26 at St. James Cathedral in Orlando.)
Bishop John Noonan ordained three transitional deacons to the priesthood at St. James Cathedral on May 26, marking an important turning point in the faith journey of three men from diverse backgrounds united in their vocation to serve others in Christ’s name.
“Each of you are called by God to a vocation of service to God and his people. Today you will be ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Noonan said to Fr. Mark Librizzi, Fr. Bernard Ngila and Fr. Thomas Wanitsky during his homily, “You are called to be teachers, sanctifiers, and shepherds. You are called to invigorate their lives through Christ, and that is not something that you can just do on your own, it is the grace of God that allows you to work in the lives of his people.”
With three priests ordained this year and four transitional deacons preparing for ordination to the priesthood next year, Director of Vocations Fr. Jorge Torres noted that “It is springtime here in the Church and the Lord has truly provided,” adding that Bishop Noonan has accepted 12 more men for continuing the seminarian application process.
“We will always seek holiness, integrity and purity, the purity of Christ in our applicants and seminarians, nothing less,” said Fr. Torres. “Young men and women you are made for greatness, you are made to say ‘yes’ to the Lord, even in difficult times, so continue to listen.”
Having received the sacrament of the Holy Orders, these newly ordained priests who attended St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach have already received their first priestly assignments, which they will begin this summer.
Mark Librizzi grew up in Titusville with his parents and siblings. His family was very active in his home parish of St. Teresa. He attended Auburn University, where he studied art, and then returned to Central Florida to work as a graphic designer before discerning his call to the priesthood.
He has this advice for anyone who might also be considering a vocation to the priesthood. “I would definitely bring it to prayer, focus on that, give God the time and listen,” said Fr. Librizzi.
Fr. Librizzi’s first priestly assignment will be as a parochial vicar at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park. “My prayer as I prepare to begin serving the St. Margaret Mary community is that I am able to be a true servant to the people of our parish and to be one who faithfully proclaims the message of Christ,” he said.
Born in Kenya, Africa, Fr. Bernard Ngila grew up in a devout Catholic home as the middle child among three brothers and three sisters. During high school he started thinking about the priesthood and spent four years of discernment with a Carmelite order in Kenya before moving to the United States and joining the seminary. Fr. Ngila had local friends in attendance at his ordination while his family members back in Africa were able to watch the Mass via an Internet live stream.
Fr. Ngila’s first priestly assignment will be as a parochial vicar at St. Ann Catholic Church in DeBary. “I give praise and thanksgiving to God for walking with me throughout my formation. I was extremely excited when the Bishop introduced me to my pastor (Fr. Peter Henry),” he said. “I felt that there is a task ahead to help the pastor in his shepherding role. My response when I got the assignment was ‘yes,’ just as Mary assumed the mission of bringing Christ into the world.”
As he prepares to serve God’s people as a priest, Fr. Ngila said, “I pray for patience both on my part and (from) the parishioners in that process of getting to know each other.”
Thomas Wanitsky was born in Allentown, Pa., and he grew up in what he describes as a very close family with his parents and younger brother. After attending Villanova University he moved to Orlando in 1991. In the weeks approaching his ordination, Fr. Wanitsky described his emotions as a feeling of “excitement and eager anticipation to get to work”.
Fr. Wanitsky’s father Richard said he felt “absolutely terrific” about witnessing the ordination of his son. “(Thomas) always took time to be part of the Church, and I guess later in life with different events that happened—his mother passing away at a young age, and his brother passing away—that’s what really stimulated him to become a priest,” he said.
Fr. Wanitsky’s first priestly assignment brings him full circle to his home parish in Central Florida—Holy Cross in Orlando. “I pray that I will serve my parish well, always bringing people closer to Christ, and always doing the will of God in my work,” he said.