May 18, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
If you would ask most bishops which celebration gives them the most satisfaction, they would likely say it is the ordination of priests. It is a moment that brings back memories of their own ordination, which was a time of anticipation and dreams of the future fulfillment of God’s plan.
On Saturday, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, I had the privilege of ordaining three men to the priesthood of Jesus Christ for the service to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee: Michael Lawinger, Michael Malucha, and Timothy Schumaker. Family and friends joined the ordinands at this moment that is the culmination of a journey of discernment. Now, their son, brother, cousin, or friend was receiving ordination, which only years ago they embraced as a possibility.
Sadly, the pandemic limited the number that could be physically present at the Mass. Normally, the Cathedral is filled beyond capacity. The men who were ordained on Saturday, who have been integral parts of the parishes they served and their own local parishes, would have easily generated that same type of community response.
Last year, the ordination Mass was also extremely limited due to the pandemic. However, those who were ordained expressed courage by not wanting to delay the moment of their priesthood. These men would not deny their priesthood to the Church and demonstrated in their willingness to be ordained as a sacrificial priestly response to the crisis they faced.
This year, although there were four times as many individuals present at the ordination, the virus forced seemingly deliberate attention to every aspect of the service. This created a sense of great reverence.
At the Mass, the ordinands professed their intention, pledged obedience to me and my successors, prayed the Litany of the Saints, and had hands imposed on their heads, which is the actual moment of ordination. The newly ordained were vested in priestly garb by priests who are friends or mentors. Then, they received an anointing of their hands and were handed the paten with a host and chalice with wine that was used in the Holy Sacrifice they would offer, exercising their priesthood.
I am always amazed that God, in His gracious providence, provides priests for His Church. These exceptional men could be successful in many aspects of the secular world, but instead, they chose to respond to God’s call. They will assist the people of God in navigating the challenges presented to them in life. They will help assess the mysteries of God’s presence during times of suffering, loss, joy, and wonder. They will use their priestly gifts as a conduit for grace to celebrate sacred moments.
I could not help but think of the bishops, priests, and deacons who were present at the Mass and their many years of service. These men were entrusted with the care of the Church. I can only imagine that their relationship with God has grown through their years of sacrificial love. They have held Christ crucified before them and, with each passing year, have become more Christ-like for their communities.
These three men, Fr. Michael Lawinger, Fr. Michael Malucha, and Fr. Timothy Schumaker, will now exercise their priesthood for the good of Christ’s Church. We are blessed to have their service, and they are blessed to be priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which has shaped the face of Christ in southeastern Wisconsin for over 178 years. I am proud that we hold ourselves accountable for our responsibility to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee