Walk in holiness, trusting in God to help you, and never be discouraged for what you feel you lack.
This was the message of Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State, when ordaining 33 Legionaries of Christ priests in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome this afternoon, Dec. 16, 2017, in Rome. At least 3,000 persons were present, including friends and family of the newly ordained priests.
Recalling in his homily that he had served as Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Cardinal Bertello reminded those present that he remembered that he was struck by the profoundness of the faith of the Legionaries of Christ, and their works.
The Head of the Vatican City State also reminded the new priests of Pope Francis’ recent words to priests in Bangladesh, namely to live with joy, in all the circumstances. Another piece of advice from the Supreme Pontiff, which Cardinal Bertello remembered, came from Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, namely to give God’s mercy and to live according to the Gospel.
“Tell everyone that God doesn’t abandon us,” he stressed.
Priests, the prelate noted, are to help, console, and defend others, and to participate in social works. They must always be preaching the Word of God, he underscored, noting that what they do should ‘increase’ Christ, and ‘diminish’ themselves.
Faced with difficult moments, Cardinal Bertello reminded, ‘Remember, the Lord will operate in you and through you.”
“Don’t allow yourselves to be discouraged by what you lack,” he said, “for the Lord will fill your hearts with the comforting joy of the Holy Spirit.”
Reminding the 33 new Legionary priests to “conform your lives to the Mystery of the Cross of Christ,” Cardinal Bertello prayed: “May Mary take you by the hand and accompany you in every moment of your life in serving Jesus and His Holy Church.”
The 33 new priests come from 11 countries: Italy (1), Slovakia (1), Brazil (5), Canada (1), El
Salvador (2), Venezuela (3), Spain (1), Colombia (1), Mexico (13), the Philippines (1) and the
United States (4). All of them obtained their degrees in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical
Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. The time of study and preparation also included a period of
pastoral internship, in the field of education, missions, youth work, family ministry or formation
of high school seminarians.
Among the new priests is Father John Klein, LC, from the United States, who studied music
production at Middle Tennessee State University and has put out two albums, Love is Brave and
Fearless. Father Leonardo Pérez-Castilla, from Venezuela, who studied four years of Economics
at the Andrés Bello Catholic University before joining the Legion of Christ.
Father Miguel Subirachs. LC, of Spain, comments: “From the time I was little I wanted to be a
missionary. I was particularly struck when volunteers or missionaries came to the school and
spoke of their experiences. I dreamed of doing something great for others. The call of Jesus,
‘Come and follow me!’ has resounded down through the centuries and continues to resonate in
the lives of many young people. It is a call to live life to the fullest, closer to him and configured
with him. Being a priest is not something natural, it is supernatural. We should not try to
understand it perfectly because it is a question of Love.”
Father Stefano Panizzolo, LC, an Italian, entered the Legion of Christ after obtaining his degree
in architecture in Venice. Father Michael Baggot, from the United States, was an agnostic who
was baptized, confirmed and received his First Communion in the Catholic Church in 2003 at the
Father Antonio Lemos, LC, originally from Brazil, studied law at the Federal University of
Paraná for four years. Father Manuel Cervantes, a Mexican, spent a year as Regnum Christi
Mission Corps volunteer in Padua, Italy, before joining the Legion of Christ.
Father Luis Lorenzo, LC, is the first Legionary priest from the Philippines.
The stories of the new priests can be found on the website for the priestly ordinations 2017.
The Legion of Christ, a religious congregation within the Catholic Church, has a presence in 22 countries. It currently has 4 bishops, 954 priests, and 836 religious in formation, according to data from December 31, 2014.