The dire situation regarding the coronavirus has brought to the fore many stories of the heroic actions of others, including priests. Pope Francis reflected upon this in his homily for the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. He said, "I cannot let tonight's Mass pass by without remembering priests. Priests who offer their lives to the Lord, priests who are servants. In these days many of them have died, more than sixty here in Italy, while tending to the sick and hospitals, together with doctors and nurses... They are the 'saints next door,' priests who have given their lives in service." Even the New York Times reported, "Italy’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the world's deadliest, and while the doctors and nurses on the northern Italian frontline have become symbols of sacrifice against an invisible enemy, priests and nuns have also joined the fight, often at great risk."
While not in the same position as priests in Italy, I am very much aware of the spirit which our priests in the Diocese of Palm Beach are exemplifying in service to their people. They are disheartened to be distant from the faithful at this difficult time. However, they are doing all they can to be available to people. They also carry out a unique role in celebrating Mass every day in the parishes, many of these Masses being lived streamed, in a manner that makes clear we are all united in the Eucharist, even if we cannot be present for it. The true character of priestly ministry is evident at this time in a manner that should inspire men to be open to the call to the priesthood as a vocation that truly makes a difference. When ultimate meaning and identity are sought for, the priestly vocation stands out.
On May 2, we will be ordaining two new priests for the Diocese of Palm Beach – Deacon Robinson Aza and Deacon Nicholas Zrallack. With so many cancellations taking place at this time, some dioceses are postponing priestly ordinations to an undetermined time when they can be carried out without the current attendance restrictions. When I asked our two deacons what their preference was, they both immediately responded they were interested in priesthood and not ceremony and preferred to be ordained as originally scheduled. I certainly understood their response and am happy to accommodate it. They articulate the spirit of willingness to serve as priests.
The ordination will take place at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola at 11:00 am on May 2 and will be live streamed. As with other celebrations, the viewing of the ordination will also be available on our website after it has occurred. All are invited to participate in the ordination through its live streaming. An ordination celebration is one that is very unique and moving. It makes present the call of Christ to the men being ordained and their willingness to take up this wonderful vocation. I ask you to encourage young men to be part of the celebration as it may be an impetus for them to reflect if the Lord is calling them to it. The priesthood is an essential service which continues no matter what the circumstances may bring.
Please be assured of my continued prayers for all of you at this time. May you continue to know the presence of the Lord as He speaks in a unique way and to be safe and healthy.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
April 24, 2020