Rome, December 24 -- Forty-four Legionaries of Christ were ordained to the priesthood this morning by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Substitute for General Affairs (second ranking official) of the Vatican Secretariat of State. The ordination liturgy took place in the chapel of the Legion´s Center for Higher Studies in Rome. Hundreds of family members and friends have come to Rome to accompany the newly ordained. “
In his homily, Archbishop Sandri expressed his joy at ordaining the new priests and said, "Today your religious family will be enriched by forty-four new priests. It is an event that fills the Church with joy and draws our thoughts to Jesus’ words, ‘by their fruits you will know them.’”
Speaking to the candidates, he reminded them that in their configuration to Christ through priestly ordination, they will be like him: teachers of the faith and guides of the faithful on the path to holiness.
One of the new priests, Father Lawrence Merta, a native of Brownsville, Texas, said he and his fellow ordinands sense how much their priestly ministry is needed. "After so many years of formation and preparation for the priesthood, the mission of giving God’s love to souls is an urgent matter," Father Merta said. "Christ has given me the gift of gifts. I owe him my generous and total response."
The formation process for a Legionary priest typically takes 12 to 14 years. It includes a two-year novitiate, studies in classical humanities and philosophy, a few years of apostolic internship, and finally theology study at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome. The newly ordained priests look forward with eagerness to begin their ministry.
"God chose us to be priests in this precise moment of history," noted Father Steven Liscinsky of Stratford, Conn. "Never has a world so filled with hatred and violence been in greater need of ministers of God´s love and forgiveness."
Both the makeup of the ordination class and the assignments that await them reflect the international character of the Legion of Christ. The 44 new priests come from Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Korea, the United States, Spain, Ireland, Italy and Mexico. Eleven of the new priests hail from the US; three from Canada. Their apostolic assignments range from missionary work to chaplaincies at Legionary schools, which total more than 130.
Some of the new priests will serve in several of the Legion´s eleven universities; others will help with Legionary youth clubs now active in 20 countries. Legionaries currently serve the Church in twenty countries throughout the Americas, Europe and Oceania.
The Legion now includes more than 550 priests and 2,500 seminarians. Legionary priests are the spiritual directors for Regnum Christi, a predominantly lay movement of the New Evangelization with more than 60,000 members, active in more than thirty countries worldwide. For more information: www.legionofchrist.org and www.regnumchristi.org.
New Legionary priests from the United States include Fr. Shawn Aaron, Modesto, CA; Fr. Matthew Brackett, Still River, MA; Fr. John Bullock, Houston, TX.; Fr. Simon Chung, Los Angeles, CA; Fr. Steven Liscinsky, Stratford, CT; Fr. Daniel Massick, Colfax, CA; Fr. Lawrence Merta, Brownsville, TX; Fr. Jonathan Morris, Cleveland, OH; Fr. John Sasse, Louisville, KY; Fr. Charles Sikorsky, Baltimore, MD; and Fr. Daniel Wilson, Yorba Linda, CA. New Legionary priests from Canada include Father Kenneth LeBlanc, Rogersville, NB; Father Paul Moreau, Victoria, BC; and Father Gerard O´Hara, Stony Plain, AB.