I received a call recently from Bishop Dennis Sullivan’s priest-secretary, Fr. Michael Romano, informing me that our bishop desires to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass in our parish. Naturally, I welcomed the opportunity and invited the bishop (and his entourage) to dinner at the rectory beforehand.
A priest or deacon necessarily works in conjunction with his bishop. The bishop is the chief shepherd—chief teacher, preacher, administrator—of the diocese. We pray for him (and the pope) by name at every Mass celebrated in his diocese. We look to him for guidance and direction as the chief spiritual leader of our local (diocesan) church. We know all too well that bishops are imperfect sinners like the rest of us, and they need our continual prayers to assist them in the difficult task of shepherding God’s flock.
F. Y. I., Bishop Sullivan is also scheduled to be with us to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, April 18th at 10 AM and 1 PM. (Just a reminder: there will be no 8:30 AM Mass that Saturday morning.)
Holy Thursday is a most important day for priests. We commemorate it as the day the Holy Eucharist was instituted—the first Mass, so to speak. Also, we realize the intimate connection between the ministerial (ordained) priesthood and the Holy Eucharist:
The intrinsic relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders clearly emerges from Jesus' own words in the Upper Room: "Do this in memory of me" (Lk 22:19). On the night before he died, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and at the same time established the priesthood of the New Covenant . . . . The Church teaches that priestly ordination is the indispensable condition for the valid celebration of the Eucharist. Indeed, "in the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, High Priest of the redemptive sacrifice." Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI
Additionally, we are reminded of our call to Christian charity and service as Jesus’ disciples by the foot-washing ceremony (mandatum). As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper (John 13: 1-20)—something only a Jewish slave would do—we are given a command or mandate to Christian charity and service, in imitation of him.
Finally, we are given time at the conclusion of Mass to keep watch with Christ (see Mt. 26: 36-46), truly present in the Holy Eucharist at a side altar-shrine in the repository.
Please try to join us for this Mass (Thursday, April 2 at 7 PM), as well as the liturgy on Good Friday (April 3 at 3 PM) and for the Easter Vigil (Saturday, April 4 at 8 PM).
Holy Week and its ceremonies are especially beautiful and grace-filled. Please come!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Bishop Dennis Sullivan