When better than Mother’s Day to direct our attention to what one of the sons of our parish is doing? Ben Petty, since last September a Deacon, will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood this June, and he counts Saint Bernadette as his mother parish. He looks lovingly on his home church for all she gave him as he discerned his vocation in the life of our Risen Eucharistic Lord; now is the time for us to return that gaze.
Religious Education families in particular are likely to remember (then-) Mr. Petty as one of the teachers of our second graders preparing for First Holy Communion. He also sang for several years with our nine o’clock Mass choir.
All of us who know him and even you who don’t should plan to go to the Priesthood Ordination at 10:00 AM on Saturday 15 June at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Ben is one of ten men being ordained for our Archdiocese – a cause for great joy. If you have never before attended an ordination Mass, this would be a great opportunity to fix that.
The first thing a newly ordained priest does is, of course, offer Mass. A new priest’s First Mass is especially joyful and brings to all who participate particular blessings and indulgences. Ben’s first Mass (by then he’ll be Father Petty) will be here at our 11:00 Parish Mass on Sunday 16 June (Father’s Day). Another tradition is that a new priest invites a priest who has been an influence on him to preach at his First Mass, so Father Peter Harman, Rector of the Pontifical North American College, will be the homilist. Father Harman is a friend of mine, too, and a gifted speaker. He was two years behind me in seminary, and always one of the funniest people in the building. You will not be disappointed.
After the Mass there will be a festive reception in the school hall. Ben will have invited his family and many friends for his ordination, and they will be here for the first Mass, so they will be our guests at the reception. We will want to have friendly greeters, helpful guides, and many other hospitable hosts to make the day go smoothly. And of course, we hope everybody from the community turns out to share in the celebration. Margaret McDermott and Jasmine Kuzner are coordinating the plans; please contact them to find out what you can do to help.
The Priesthood Ordination on 15 June will be a chance to see our new Archbishop, Wilton Gregory,in action. If you do not want to wait that long, you can join the throng to greet him at his Mass of Installation at 2:00 PM on Tuesday 21 May, also at the Basilica. You’ll want to get there early; the procession, with its handful of Cardinals, dozens of Bishops and Archbishops, hundreds of priests, and herds of deacons and seminarians is scheduled to start at 1:30, so most people will try to be there by one o’clock.
Ben Petty is the first Son of Saint Bernadette to be ordained since 2012, when Father Patrick Lewis, currently Parochial Vicar at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda was ordained. The most recent before that for our own Archdiocese was Father Walter Tappe, in 1985; he’s now Pastor of St. Hugh in Greenbelt.
But we have also given priests to other dioceses and communities: Father Brian Kane, ordained in 2000 for the Diocese of Lincoln; Father David Meng for the Diocese of Arlington; Fr. Gregory Coyne of Opus Dei; and Father George Zahn of the Diocese of Richmond.
It’s enough to make a mother (church) proud, but of course, there’s never enough. Now that Ben will be finishing seminary, it’s time to see who is the next to begin - maybe someone from your family? With that thought, Happy Mother’s Day! Christ is risen from the dead; truly He is risen. Alleluia!Monsignor Smith