In October of 2018, Metropolitan Jerome as Servant Superior of the Congregation of the Divine Charity, the umbrella congregation for religious and apostolic life in the Orthodox Old Roman Catholic Communion, visited Chicago and the Franciscan Friary of St Felix home to the Missionary Franciscans of Christ the King. The primary purpose of his visit was to ordain Friars James Alaniz and Thomas Gierke as priests.
The ordination Mass took place on Sunday, October 7th the feast of Our Lady of Victory, the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League of 1571 over the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto. The Pontifical Solemn Mass was offered in the historic Church of the Atonement and was beautifully sung by a hand-picked schola under the direction of Mr Kevin Allen, an internationally acclaimed composer of polyphony and expert on chant. The resident organist at Atonement, Mr Charles Sega accompanied the hymns and improvised organ preludes as required to cover some of the liturgical action.
The serving team, though unfamiliar with the traditional Latin Rite of Ordination and having only received a few minutes of instruction before the liturgy from the MC, Monsignor Kelly, served beautifully. A large congregation of family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers witnessed the traditional and deeply moving Rite of Ordination, following in their bilingual missalettes Latin/English the liturgy and descriptive notes. All enjoyed the hospitality of the Friars afterward who laid on refreshments and wine to celebrate the occasion.
The following day, the newly ordained priests offered their first Masses, Missa Cantata and both were solemnly sung with the schola, organist and director that assisted the Pontifical liturgy the day before. One Mass at 0900 offered by Fr Thomas OSF and the other by Fr James OSF at 1100. Being a weekday it wasn’t possible to field a full team of servers so Monsignor Kelly and Metropolitan Jerome assisted, the latter acting as MC for the new celebrants.
Following each First Mass by the new priests, a procession took place to the Shrine of Our Lady, pausing along the way all the clergy momentarily kneeling, to salute the mother of the new priest. Each priest’s mother was presented by her son with a red rose tied with the manutergium – the hand-towel that had soaked up the sacred Chrism used to consecrate the hands of the new priests at their ordination – the rose plucked from the midst of a bouquet of white roses that were afterward presented to Our Lady by the new priests, now her sons by adoption. Needless to say, both mothers and sons were deeply affected by this act of honour and humility and certainly Our Lady’s prayers will bless their ministry as they strive to act “in persona Christi”.