As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Peace be with you! Whether you are reading this or listening to a podcast of it, I ask that you stop and fold your hands together for prayer. I ask that you pray with gratitude for our newly ordained priests, Father Zackary Gray and Father Joseph Tran and ask God to give them joys that never end in their fiat to Him and service to you. They are named priests in the line of Melchizedek, recalling our generational ties to the priests, prophets, kings, and people of the Old Testament as Jesus fulfilled the Covenant to bring salvation to the people. Now after nine years of rigorous study, spiritual guidance, and pastoral solicitude, Father Gray and Father Tran are ordained to bring God to each one of you through the Sacraments, that you might live as God’s dwelling place. In this then, God calls them to fill the earth with holiness.
It is fitting that we pray with gratitude for these priests as we have been on a journey this Easter season, accompanying the apostles, disciples and newly converted of the early Church, to refresh ourselves in the waters of Baptism granting us the eyes to see and ears to hear our call to holiness, this lived community of faith so new, yet aged in God’s time.
In the community of our time, we are still learning how to love one another as God loves us. We are still trying to understand charity for the lowliest, particularly when we may feel one of the lowly. We are growing our families with Sacramental presence and we may also find disappointment that not all our family members believe as we do. Time and time again, the apostles, like Peter and Paul, express these difficulties in the early Church, as we hear proclaimed in the Scriptures. They talk about persecution and discrimination and yet, daily, they are seen at the Temple preaching the Word of God. When they are most afraid and confused, God sends the Holy Spirit to bolster them with courage and they spread the Peace of the Lord in ways that people, no matter their language, can understand. The apostles and now, Fathers Gray and Tran, will invite you, in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to shed your nearsightedness, your disbelief, your earthly perspectives, and to view what you asked in Baptism, eternal life with God. Pope Francis said, “We are called to be guardians of one another, to strengthen the bonds of harmony and sharing, and to heal the wounds of creation lest its beauty be destroyed.”
Fathers Gray and Tran will feed you with the gift of finest wheat, Bread from Heaven, the Eucharist. They will challenge you to be fed physically and spiritually and to not overlook the most important meal, the Eucharist, the sustenance of our journey from this earth to Heaven. They will invite you to build a holy family and help you understand how you, by virtue of your Baptism, are priests, prophets, and kings. They will implore you to act accordingly! They will ask you to be moved by God’s gaze of love and lead you out of yourselves into God’s marvelous light.
Father Joseph Tran was born in “a poor village of Vietnam, but rich in faith.” He is joyous to be the beautiful feet of those who bring the Good News. Father Zackary Gray says he is a ‘regular guy’ who knows that God loves him. He felt a call to the priesthood when he was 14 years old and promised to actively live his faith. Speaking about his Ordination to the Priesthood, he said, “It’s God who is good enough. What I gave to Christ, He just multiplied and made it more than enough.”
Both men, in their humility, ask us to pray for them. I also ask that you welcome them as part of your community of faith, even if you never meet them. Because throughout our entire Diocese of Orlando, we are joined together through, with and in God. Our Holy Father prays, “Let us implore the light of the Holy Spirit, so that all of us may find our proper place and give the very best of ourselves in this great divine plan!” May our sending be one of return to the Father.