June 5, 2024 at 9:30 a.m.

Ordination afterglow

Our five recently ordained priests are a breath of fresh air for the Church of Albany.
Father Thomas Morrette
Father Thomas Morrette

By Father Thomas Morrette | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Catholics in our Diocese recently got a welcome shot in the arm because of the ordination of five new priests. It is rare these days to have such a good number of priestly ordinations and it is a particular blessing for us to be recipients of the diverse gifts and experiences these men bring to our diocesan family. The ordination ceremony in our Cathedral on May 18, celebrated by Bishop Scharfenberger, was an event most will never forget. If you were lucky enough to attend the “first Mass” of one of these men, subsequent to their ordinations, you probably came away from it deeply moved by their example and generosity. I’m sure these events filled you with pride and gratitude and perhaps amazement. What bravery, dedication and commitment these men possess! These new priests are an astounding group of men. What a blessing they are to us!

To be sure, these past few decades have been difficult for many Catholics. We’ve had to deal with the fallout from the clergy abuse scandals. Some older Catholics feel great pain these days because their children and grandchildren drift away from the faith. Local parish communities have been merged and re-organized in new ways which are so different from the “one parish, one pastor” model they were used to. The issue of bankruptcy causes many to worry. Concern about the health and welfare of current pastors and church ministers is real because of their increased workloads. And then there are the issues of the wider Church which can cause anxiety and confusion in the hearts of many.

My favorite image of the universal Church is that of a massive boat making its way through rough seas, forging ahead to its ultimate destination. The waves and violent weather buffet it about and threaten to sink it. But slowly and surely, chaos is defeated and the boat doesn’t sink. The boat negotiates its way through these ominous assaults but keeps on course.  Buffeted about, from without and within, the Church/the boat — whose captain is the Lord — endures intact.

This image of the Church as a boat in rough seas goes back to the early Church and is a favorite theme in the writing of the early Church Fathers. In fact, I believe this very image is carved into the marble front of the high altar in the sanctuary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. It’s a perennial and visible reminder to the faithful of two truths fundamental to our faith — that the Church, in every age, will always be assailed and challenged, and it may often list, but that the Truth and Love that Christ brings into our imperfect world will prevail, and that all of us on the boat must persevere, never lose gratitude for being one of its passengers, and we constantly rely on grace from above to get us to our destination.

Our five recently ordained priests are a breath of fresh air for the Church of Albany and they will thankfully help steer the boat of our Diocese in some fashion in the future. They should, however, expect dark times and rough seas; that’s the way it always has been since the apostles first left Jerusalem after Pentecost 2,000 years ago. Our prayer for them should be that they will always possess the bravery, dedication, fortitude and trust that brought them to the Cathedral a few weeks ago and that, in dark and challenging times, they may know God’s strength and power and remember that the rest of us on the boat are praying for them, grateful to them, and are right behind them.

Father Morrette is pastor at The Catholic Community of Our Lady of Victory in Troy, Our Lady of the Snow Mission in Grafton and Christ Sun of Justice Parish in Troy.


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