A packed congregation assembled at Buffalo's St. Joseph Cathedral Saturday morning, as the diocese came together to welcome Father Michael Brown, Father Samuel Giangreco and Father Michael LaMarca to the priesthood during an ordination Mass.
"We'll witness a number of actions today within the context of the Mass that are unique to the ordination of priests," said Bishop Richard J. Malone, who ordained the three men. "The ordination is a gift given to some for the good of all."
The three men took different paths to their vocation, but they stood side-by-side as Bishop Malone celebrated the Mass of ordination for them. What is unique to the Mass is several moments involving the three, called candidates prior to their official ordination, must answer the call of the bishop and pledge their obedience and respect to him and his successors. Then the candidates lie prostrate in front of the altar during the litany of supplication.
"The symbolism of the prostration is so very apparent," the bishop said. "It's about humility and one's unworthiness to the calling. It's about dependency on God and the prayers of all of you. And it's about surrender; total self-giving to God, (His) will and the mission."
During the service, Bishop Malone placed his hands upon the heads of the three candidates to set them apart in the service of God. The action is rooted in the New Testament, and following the bishop, all the other assembled clergy also lay their hands upon the heads of the candidates. Bishop Malone then invoked the gift of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the ordained as priests.
A few moments later, all the clergy also took the time to welcome the three new priests with handshakes and hugs. The congregation then stood in applause in salute to the newly ordained.
During his homily, Bishop Malone spoke about the process of ordination and the role of the priest in Church life. He spoke of the example of Pope Francis, that while some clergy feel the Holy Father is being too hard on them, "what it is is that he's always urging us to be all that we are called to be."
Father Brown, a native of Buffalo who worked in the government and supported a family, has been assigned to St. Gabriel Parish in Elma. Father Giangreco, who grew up in the Northtowns and obtained a degree in Sociology before turning to the priesthood, will be at Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Lackawanna. Father LaMarca, a West Seneca native who considered a career in sports management prior to his calling, has been assigned to St. John Paul II Parish in Lake View.