Nearly 100 Catholic clergy were present yesterday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen to welcome four new priests to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. But thoughts remained with a man who wasn't there.
Cardinal William H. Keeler is recovering from brain surgery last week to treat a neurological condition that affected his ability to walk, said spokesman Sean Caine. His physicians advised him not to attend the nearly two-hour ordination service - an annual event.
Keeler expressed his congratulations and good wishes to the priest-candidates, known as ordinands, through an audio message played at the start of the service.
"There's no greater joy ... to a bishop than to ordain a priest in Jesus Christ for service in his archdiocese," the cardinal said in the recording. "May you always be aware of the support and example of your brother priests who serve."
The four, all natives of the East Coast who range in age from 27 to 34, will serve parishes in the Baltimore archdiocese.
Keeler was disappointed that he had to miss such an important occasion, said Bishop W. Francis Malooly, the auxiliary bishop who performed the ordinations.
"The cardinal works so hard with them," Malooly said. "He knows them well because he gets together with them on a regular basis."
It was the first time during his 18 years as archbishop of Baltimore that Keeler has been absent at the annual ordination service. Only bishops may ordain priests in the Roman Catholic Church - usually the "ordinary," or bishop who leads a diocese.
Malooly ordained priests two years ago when the cardinal was recovering from knee surgery, although Keeler was able to attend the service.
Yesterday, after Bible readings selected by the four ordinands, the Rev. Gerard Francik, the archdiocese's director of vocations, presented the candidates to Malooly and stated that they had been found worthy of ordination.
During his sermon, the bishop advised them to be "welcoming, present, available and joyful ... to be the face of Jesus for others."
"When people talk to you, let them see Jesus in you," Malooly said.
Kneeling before the bishop, each placed his hand in Malooly's and promised obedience to the archdiocese's leaders.
To show humility and dependence on God, the four ordinands then lay face-down on the sanctuary floor as those around them prayed the "Litany of Supplication," invoking the intercession of saints.
Afterward, Malooly laid his hands on the heads of each candidate, followed by the other priests at the service.
Priests selected by the ordinands dressed them in clerical vestments. Malooly anointed the new priests' hands with consecrated chrism - usually a balsam-scented olive oil - to prepare them to handle the bread and wine during Mass. He and other bishops and priests greeted each candidate with a hug.
The four priests then joined the bishops of the diocese behind the altar for the consecration of the Eucharist. At the conclusion of the service, they offered their first blessings to Malooly.
Today, the priests will celebrate their first Masses. The newly ordained men are scheduled to meet with the cardinal tomorrow to learn where they will be assigned and to offer their blessings to him.
Larry and Carol Triplett of Reisterstown were proud that their son Michael had chosen this path.
"It's been nine years," the mother said.
The fourth of seven children, the new priest had discerned his call nearly a decade ago while attending Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, he said after the ordination. The lifelong member of Sacred Heart parish in Glyndon, a graduate of the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City, said he had attended ordinations for 10 years before it became his turn.
"I just kind of felt a great love of service," said Triplett, 28. "It was a natural leap."
The Rev. Daniel J. Goulet said his grandmother had always encouraged him, but he first acted on his call to ordination while serving in the military. The 33-year-old priest grew up in Maine but received the sacrament of confirmation at Our Lady of Peace, the Catholic parish at Fort Meade. At the time, his sponsor, layman Frank Stewart, jokingly predicted that Goulet would pursue ordination - a prophecy that later came true.
Goulet, co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Military Services, will serve a parish here for three years before becoming a chaplain with the Maryland National Guard, he said.
The oldest of seven children, the Rev. Jesse L. Bolger, 34, grew up in West Baltimore and Frederick. He owned a landscaping company and worked for Provident Bank before pursuing ordination.
Bolger said he entered Mount St. Mary's Seminary about a month before the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks in 2001.
Despite this and other major world events during that time, "God's grace has kept me straight and on his path," he said.
The Rev. Michael J. Foppiano, 27, said he was overwhelmed after the ordination.
"So much grace was given to us. It's hard to comprehend," said the graduate of Mount St. Mary's Seminary, who grew up in New York.
Two busloads of parishioners from Holy Family Catholic Community in Middletown, Frederick County, attended yesterday's service to support Foppiano, who served the parish as a deacon.
Barb and Tom Candelaria and Peggy Richards described how Foppiano began to cry while giving his last sermon at Holy Family.
"I truly think he is blessed by the Holy Spirit," Barb Candelaria said.