Homily for the Priestly Ordination of Reverend Father Carl Gregorich at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee
My dear brothers and sister in Christ, we are gathered this morning in faith, with great joy on this First Saturday of June, 2018 dedicated to Our Blessed Mother Mary, and in anticipation of the Vigil of Corpus Christi this evening.
This morning we come to ordain our brother, Deacon Carl Gregorich to the Order of the Sacred Priesthood for the Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee.
I want to recognize all my brother diocesan and religious order priests, our deacons, religious sisters and brothers in Consecrated life, seminarians and novices and faithful laity in and outside of the Diocese.
In a special way, I want to welcome Fr. Thomas Konoeble, president-rector and faculty representative from Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with all the priest, deacons and friends of Deacon Carl Gregorich who have traveled such a distance to attend his ordination today.
In a particular way, I want to acknowledge the presence of Deacon Gregorich's family, relatives and guests.
Welcome to Memphis, and thank you so very much for the many years that you have supported Deacon Carl Gregorich in his discernment and vocation to the priesthood.
I ask that even after today, that you please keep him in your daily prayers as he will need them.
Let me begin by offering thanks to Almighty God, who first called Deacon Carl Gregorich to his vocation to serve as a priest.
Today is a great day of joy for me, my brother priest and for the whole Diocese as we gather with you, Deacon Gregorich, on the occasion of your ordination to the Sacred Priesthood.
Thank you so very much for your vocation, love, sacrifice and perseverance to your call to follow Jesus Christ.
We, the Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee, are so very grateful for your commitment to follow in the footsteps of the Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ.
After today, your life will be very different, and changed forever, as will the lives of the people whom you will be called to lead and serve through your pastoral ministry.
In today's Gospel from John, we hear Jesus speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper about the core teaching of all Sacred Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and that teaching is about His commandment of love.
Jesus speaks of the love which the Father and He have for those who belong to Him.
As we know, no one can ever outdo God in love, because His love for us is unconditional. It is Agape love.
God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
In God's love we find the fullness of grace, life, peace, and joy.
Jesus gives His disciples a new commandment; a new way of love.
We are called to love one another as Jesus has loved us.
The essence of this new commandment is that true love is sacrificial. It gives all to the other; which is our neighbor.
And there is no greater proof in love than the sacrifice of one's life for the sake of another.
Jesus proved His love for His disciples by giving His life for them and for us; even to death on the cross.
He gave the best He had and all that He had. He gave His very life for those He loved in order to secure for them everlasting life with the Father.
True love is costly. Jesus tells us that He is our friend and He loves us whole-heartedly and unconditionally.
He wants us to love one another just as He loves us, whole heartedly, and without reserve.
His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others.
If we open our hearts to His love and obey His commandments to love our neighbor, then we will bear much fruit in our lives, fruit that will last for all eternity.
Our baptism is the first recalling of that love, promised to us in care and protection for this life and into eternity.
Our baptism joins us to the faithful disciples of Jesus, who have received and shared His Love; and is a call for us to be a follower of Jesus in care, love and compassion for our neighbor.
Specifically, the call of Jesus is to share in the salvation of the world. In making the world a better place to live in for everyone.
His Holiness, Pope Francis in chapter 5 of his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, "The Joy of the Gospel", says, "The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of Him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known." (E.G. 264)
Pope Francis goes on to say, "Loving others is a spiritual force drawing us to union with God. Closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God, and that love is, in the end, the only light which can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God." (E.G. 272)
Pope Francis concludes, "Mary is a model of discipleship, open to the Spirit, combining love, tenderness and courage. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization." (E.G. 288)
Deacon Gregorich, From this day forward, I encourage you; I urge you, to ask Mary, Our Blessed Mother, Ever Virgin, to teach you about her Son's commandment of love.
Above all, may the Blessed Virgin Mary be your model, as one of humble service, who like her Son, Jesus Christ, came to serve and not be served.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, once again in today's Gospel, Jesus makes it very clear to His disciples, that the greatest possible love a person can have is to sacrifice one's life for one's friends.
That may mean dying for others, but it may also mean living for others; in either case our primary concern is for the need of our brother or sister; our neighbor.
Jesus reminds us that His commandment means that our love must bear fruit.
Deacon Gregorich, always remember that your love of God and love of neighbor is always to bear fruit for the kingdom of God.
Beloved brothers and sisters: Because our son, Deacon Carl Gregorich, who is your relative and friend, is now to be advanced to the Order of Priest, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which he is about to be raised.
It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest Himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in His name, and on behalf of mankind a priestly office in the Church.
For Christ was sent by the Father and He in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, He might continue to exercise His office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd.
Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.
After mature deliberation, our brother Deacon Carl Gregorich is now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry His Body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the People of God, a Holy temple.
In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, he will be consecrated as a true priest of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God's people, and to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord's sacrifice.
I want to take this opportunity also to encourage all those who may feel called to serve our Lord as priests, there is no priest without the Eucharist and there is no Eucharist without the priest. Therefore, those of you here today, consider this holy call to serve the people of God and encourage those whom you think also have a vocation.
Deacon Carl Gregorich, know that you will always be in my prayers, and in the prayers of your future brother priests, your family, relatives and friends.
From now on, and for the rest of your life, pray every mass, as if it were your first mass, your last mass, your only mass.
And may you always remember that, "In Aeternum Misericordia Eius," "His Mercy Endures Forever."