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Sunday, 05 June 2011 10:25

A new shepherd to ‘love the flock and care for them’

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On May 28, the newly-ordained Father Brian Alford offers a blessing to his fellow diocesan priests, seminarians and deacons who have gathered on the steps of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.On Saturday, May 28, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki ordained Father Brian Alford to the diocesan priesthood. At 32, Father Alford, who grew up in Troy and lived in Maryville as an adult, is now the youngest diocesan priest in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

The ordination was attended by Father Alford’s family, at least 30 of his fellow diocesan priests and hundreds of lay people, many who have come to know him while he has been in the seminary.

In his homily, Bishop Paprocki said the ordination of a priest is important to the whole Catholic community because it is a sign of faith, hope and love. “Faith, because the ordination of a priest indicates that the faith is very much alive and well even now in the third millennium of Christianity,” he said.

“Hope, because the ordination of the priest gives reassurance that the Word of God will continue to be preached and the mission of Jesus Christ will continue to be carried out in the world. Love, because the ordination of a priest assures the community that there will continue to be shepherds who will love the flock and care for them.”

After making his promises for the priesthood, Deacon Brian Alford lies prostrate on the sanctuary floor while the assembly prays the Litany of the Saints.Bishop Paprocki said ordination is very important in the life of the man to be ordained because “by the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, he is signed with a special character and is so configured to Christ the High Priest that he will have the power to act in the person of Christ the Head.”

“Brian Alford has come to this graced moment in response to God’s call as mediated by the church after much prayer and preparation,” he said.

The ordination of a priest is important to the diocesan bishop and his presbyterate because priests take part in the bishop’s priesthood and mission, Bishop Paprocki said. “We (the bishop and the presbyterate) are not lone rangers doing our own thing,” he said. “We are collaborators in a great spiritual symphony.

“Without the musicians in an orchestra, the conductor can make no sound,” he said. “Without the conductor, the musicians’ sounds will disintegrate into a cacophony of dissonance and disharmony.”

Just moments after the new priest was ordained Father August Sperl lays hands on Father Alford. At age 91 and age 32, respectively, Father Sperl and Father Alford are now the oldest and youngest diocesan priests. Bishop Paprocki said Father Alford is the first priest that he has ever ordained. “It is fitting that Brian Alford’s last name begins with ‘A’ because it is my ardent hope and fervent prayer that this will be just the first of many, many more priests that I will have the privilege to ordain through God’s grace for service to the mission of the One who is the ‘Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’”

Speaking of the promises of a priest, Bishop Paprocki noted that a priest promises to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and to live in chaste celibacy. “A priest also promises obedience in order to be open to hearing God’s call as prayerfully discerned by the diocesan bishop in consultation with his advisors and the priest himself, so that the needs of the diocese will be properly served and the mission of Christ will be effectively embraced.”

Finally, the ordination of a priest is also a time for the priest to ask what he can expect from the church. “In that regard, my friends, as your bishop, I ask you to pray for priests; pray especially today for this priest, Father Brian Alford; be with him, care for him, work with him, support him, but most of all, love him, as Christ loved you, for as I say in my episcopal motto, Lex Cordis Caritas, ‘The Law of the Heart is Love.’”

Father  John Titus vests Father Alford with his chasuble. Father Titus was the  director of the Office for Vocations when Father Alford entered the  seminary.After the homily, Father Alford made his promises to the priesthood and lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly prayed The Litany of the Saints. The ordination also included the laying of hands by Bishop Paprocki and the priests and the prayer of ordination just before he was vested with his chasuble by Father John Titus, who was director of vocations when Father Alford entered the seminary.

Next, Bishop Paprocki anointed the new priest’s hands with the chrism that was blessed at the chrism Mass during Holy Week this year and Father Alford received the bread and wine. Finally Bishop Paprocki gave the fraternal kiss to Father Alford and the priests did the same, welcoming him to the ministry. The liturgy resumed with Father Alford concelebrating.

After the Mass ended, Father Alford stepped out on the steps of the Cathedral, where he was greeted with the joyous applause of his fellow diocesan priests. Father Alford gave the traditional first blessing to Bishop Paprocki and then blessed the assembled priests, deacons and seminarians. Shortly after, he attended a reception in his honor in the Cathedral atrium.

Following  the tradition in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, priests gather  around the steps of the Cathedral to applaud for and congratulate the  newly-ordained Father Alford.On July 1, Father Alford will begin his priestly service as parochial vicar to St. Anthony of Padua Parish and Sacred Heart Parish in Effingham as well as Annunciation Parish in Shumway.

Finally, the ordination of a priest is also a time for the priest to ask what he can expect from the church. “In that regard, my friends, as your bishop, I ask you to pray for priests; pray especially today for this priest, Father Brian Alford; be with him, care for him, work with him, support him, but most of all, love him, as Christ loved you, for as I say in my episcopal motto, Lex Cordis Caritas, ‘The Law of the Heart is Love.”

After the homily, Father Alford made his promises to the priesthood and lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly prayer The Litany of the Saints. The ordination also included the laying of hands by Bishop Paprocki and the priest and the prayer of ordination just before he was vested with his chasuble by Father John Titus, who was director of vocations when Father Alford entered the seminary.

Father Alford gives the traditional first blessing to Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. Next, Bishop Paprocki anointed the new priest’s hands with the chrism that was blessed at the chrism Mass during Holy Week this year and Father Alford received the bread and wine. Finally Bishop Paprocki gave the fraternal kiss to Father Alford and the priests did the same, welcoming him to the ministry. The liturgy resumed with Father Alford concelebrating.

After the Mass ended, Father Alford stepped out on the steps of the Cathedral, where he was greeted with the joyous applause of his fellow diocesan priests. Father Alford first gave the traditional first blessing to Bishop Paprocki and then to priests. Shortly after, he attended a reception in his honor in the Cathedral atrium.

On July 1, Father Alford will begin his priestly service as parochial vicar to St. Anthony of Padua Parish and Sacred Heart Parish in Effingham as well as Annunciation Parish in Shumway.