By Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB
(New Rochelle, NY – May 31) – Fathers Branden Gordon and Joshua Sciullo were ordained priests on May 27 by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, archbishop emeritus of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The rite of ordination was celebrated at Our Lady of the Valley Church in Orange, NJ. The cardinal’s joy in being among his Salesian Family was evident throughout the day.
More than 60 Salesians took part in the liturgy, besides numerous Salesian Sisters and other members of the Salesian Family, members of the new priests’ families, and students from several Salesian schools—from as far away as Sherbrooke and Tampa. The cardinal’s homily stressed that the newly ordained should become identified with Christ, to whom they belong entirely and who sends them to be influencers among the young.
Cardinal Oscar told the congregation that God, through the Holy Spirit, will enter the depths of Fr. Branden and Fr. Josh and transform them into images of Christ. On the eve of Pentecost, he urged the ordinands to entrust their priesthood to the Holy Spirit. Through these men, Christ intends to transform the Church, our Congregation, and the world.
The cardinal pointed out that Christ made a gratuitous and irrevocable choice of these two men, that they should hand themselves over to him entirely and become identified with him. They are invited to an intimate relationship with the Father and with humanity in order to give life to humanity. The image of Christ engraved in their souls is more powerful than their human weakness, so that whoever sees them ought to be able to see Christ in them.
The priest is an alter Christus, "another Christ," Cardinal Oscar reminded the ordinands. He doesn’t belong to himself or to the world but is the exclusive possession of the Lord, a minister of Christ. Don Bosco understood this completely. The cardinal quoted our Founder’s words to Prime Minister Ricasoli: "Don Bosco is a priest at the altar, in the confessional, and among his dear boys; and as he is a priest in Turin, so also he is a priest in Florence, in the homes of the poor, in the King’s palace."
The preacher continued with the implications for a Salesian priest. A Salesian dedicates himself to the education of youth. Don Bosco wants these two new priests to be influencers through their ministry to the young. They are to confront the challenges facing the marginalized, those who separate faith from their lives, and those overcome by the world.
The cardinal acknowledged that the families of Fr. Josh and Fr. Branden have given the best they have to the Church, namely, their sons.
Finally, our Salesian confrere invoked Mary, Mother of the Church and Help of Christians. He prayed that Mary would obtain for them the gifts of love, purity, self-denial, a sense of service and dedication, and perseverance so that they will become permanent offerings to God and their brothers and sisters, even when the priesthood is demanding of them.
The new priests were presented in the May 18 issue of Salesian News.