Today is a blessed day for the Archdiocese of Seattle, as we celebrate the ordination and gift of a new priest. Congratulations, Fr. Thomas V. Tran!
Below you can find the video of the Mass, including the printed homily further below.
Priesthood Ordination Homily:
Thomas, to you and your family and the many other friends who join us via livestream, welcome! On behalf of this local Church, I express a profound sense of gratitude to your parents, Hein and Tu, and your family for the love and formation you received first from them – and for the gift they make today in sharing you with God’s family, that you may serve the broader Church as a priest.
I express my gratitude also to the many formators who have had a more formal role in preparing you for this day; from the Cistercians to Fr. Dolejsi, from Bishop White to Mt. Angel seminaries, many lives have touched yours, so that your life may now reach many more. This example alone speaks to the tremendous generosity of God, and how he lavishly bestows gifts and blessings upon us that his presence and work of Redemption may continue through us.
God, who formed you from the womb, further shaping and molding you through your life experience, now sends you forth in his name, (Jeremiah 1:4-9) anointed as a priest, that others may experience the nearness of God through you and your ministry.
Thomas, stay close to God’s people. They will help you become a good priest.
Your life experience demonstrates that the human journey is unpredictable, and yet the Lord walks with us faithfully. Even in these times, the world is experiencing the perils and challenges of a pandemic. Our own society is undergoing a tremendous examination of conscience regarding our failures to recognize the dignity of every human person. We live in a day where far too many people are willing to seek security and certainty in extreme positions which only end up dividing us and further fracturing the bonds of our human family.
I pray for you Thomas, that you will rise to the challenges of this present moment, and be capable of discerning and learning how to apply the lessons of your life regarding God’s fidelity, in order to apply those lessons to the challenges of our world today. Our world needs healing, physical and spiritual healing, and these two go hand-in-hand, because they are intimate, interwoven realities of every human person, and thus at the heart of the human family.
Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, came into the world to walk humbly with us as a Gentle Physician to heal the wounds of humanity and restore our communion with God, each other, and all of creation. Jesus preached the Good News to all, forgave individual sins, healed personal maladies, and ultimately applied the balm of God’s mercy and Redemption to the entire human family. Our Church and world need priests today who are capable of building community and restoring the unity of the human family that is found in Jesus Christ.
Every priest participates in the ministry of Jesus. Thomas, keep your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and learn from him. The mission of the Church is ultimately found in the ministry of priesthood. The mission is summarized in proclaiming Christ to the world, bringing others into the divine life of God, and exercising charity, particularly towards the poor. This mission is reflected in the common and ordained priesthood, as each are called and sent to proclaim the Word of God, sanctify others through celebration and reception of the sacraments, and provide for the needs of all through good governance.
Priests have a duty as shepherds to lead, but this must be a leadership rooted in service, not lording it over others. Thomas, be alert to the traps of clericalism which seeks honor and privilege, and ultimately ends up separating us from God’s people, and fractures the Body of Christ. Always place yourself at the service of others.
Our second reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews (5:1-10) speaks also of the suffering of Jesus, and you can be assured, as any and every other disciple and priest, you will experience trials and sufferings in your ministry and service of God’s people. Jesus learned obedience through his suffering. (Hebrews 5:8) He learned that only by fulfilling the will of the Father is it possible to accomplish the work of Redemption.
Always remember, it is God who called you from among God’s people, not because you are perfect or sinless, but solely for God’s purpose, plan and will. Jesus is the perfect manifestation of God’s love, and through our anointing as priests, we are called to reflect and embody this love in our life and ministry. The greatest manifestation of Jesus’ love is expressed upon the cross, when he gave himself completely over to the Father’s will, and to us.
In our own life as priests, when we find ourselves in the crucible of suffering, particularly as it is directly related to our ministry, it is specifically ‘there’ that we learn to give ourselves over completely to the Father’s will, and to the people of God. These are the moments we truly learn to love, in the manner of Jesus, who tells us in the Gospel today: “As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love.” (John 15:9)
Thomas, today you make a number of promises, all of which are meant to facilitate this love of Jesus in your life and ministry as a priest. May you learn to lean upon the grace of Priesthood to first of all ‘be’ another Christ to the world, and secondly to ‘do’ all that is asked of you in his name.
Be faithful in prayer, allow the gift of celibacy to lead you in living your life only and all for Jesus, and through obedience learn to walk humbly with God in the service of those who are entrusted to your care. In keeping and living these promises, you will be able to fulfill the primary work of every priest in proclaiming God’s word, sanctifying and shepherding God’s holy, faithful people.
Thomas, as you place your hands in mine in a few short moments, realize this gesture symbolizes placing your hands in the hands of Christ. Always ‘remain in the hands of Christ.’ As Jesus placed himself into the hands of the Father, priesthood places you squarely in the heart of the Paschal Mystery, for it is only from the heart of this mystery that you will be capable of leading others to Christ. This is truly the life of the priest! Only Christ who has conquered death and risen to die no more is capable of granting us true freedom, true life, true hope, joy and healing.
Thomas, lead others to Christ. Lead others to His truth. Lead others to discover the Love of His Most Sacred Heart, and your own life will indeed bear much fruit, fruit that will remain, and your joy will be complete. (John 15: 5-11)
Now that Christ has laid hold of you, never let Him go!