Candidates for the priesthood, Deacons Russell Bergman (l.) and James O’Rourke lie prone for the Litany of Supplication. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist()
Candidates for the priesthood, Deacons Russell Bergman (l.) and James O’Rourke lie prone for the Litany of Supplication. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist()

Calling the priesthood “a ministry of love,” Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany presided over the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Russell Bergman and Father James O’Rourke - who were both profiled in last week’s The Evangelist - on June 18 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.

In this ministry of love, Bishop Scharfenberger said in responding to God’s call, Fathers Bergman and O’Rourke are “courageous” and have “to be like a superhero.” 

“God does not create our trials and tribulations, but allows them to happen so that we can recognize where our true hope and trust comes from. And it comes from him and not from us. … So many times our trials and tribulations can discourage us, but in fact, the Lord allows them to happen in this school of life that Jesus himself learned from,” the Bishop said in his homily. “...  So today my dear brothers, in responding to the call of God’s people to come forward, you are doing a very courageous thing. We admire you and thank you for that. But we also know that what is happening today is more than the sum total of all that you have done to come to this day and it has been a lot of sacrifices, and it has been a lot of questions, and there's been a lot of prayer and there’s been ups and downs and there will continue to be those things. But know that you are here for one reason, one basic reason: God loves you and we love you. God needs you and we need you. 

“A priest is a man in many ways set apart. In some ways, a priest in today’s parlance almost has to be like a superhero, and by that I mean a lot of things are expected of you. You are expected to fix a lot of things, to heal a lot of things, to forgive a lot of situations.”

But this was the man who Jesus was and that’s the kind of men that he calls his priests to be. 

“There aren’t too many superheroes that show that vulnerability as Jesus did. He is not afraid to be seen as one who suffers. One who bleeds. One who weeps. One who shows compassion because he himself is educated in the school of hard knocks. The school of life. That is the kind of man Jesus is and that’s the kind of men he calls his priests to be. Very human and not called to be saints because few people are born that way .. we are called to be faithful, called to be loved. Ultimately, as it has been said so beautifully by many, many holy people that we are not going to be judged by what we accomplished, by what we said, by what we knew or who we knew. 

“The ultimate standard for God’s judgment is how well we loved, but we can't do that unless we know that we are loved. That is why I want to leave you with the thought to contemplate for the rest of your life and throughout your priesthood that God loves you deeply. That we love you and we will be there with you and your ministry is ultimately a ministry of love. …”

“Throughout your ministry, my dear brothers, I hope you recognize that more often than not, people will remember your words not because of what you said … they may not remember any quotes or any particular actions but if you are present with love, sincere love, they will know that they have encountered the face of God.”