November 3 marked a first for me— I attended my first ordination.
I had been invited by Brother Frank Critch, a Franciscan friar I met this past summer on a pilgrimage to Assisi. In our 10 days abroad, I got to know Frank as an utterly delightful person who truly had discerned his vocation and is a passionate follower of St. Francis. I was honored to be asked to be present at his ordination Mass.
I traveled to Triangle, Virginia, to St. Francis of Assisi Parish, where Frank is obviously quite popular—the church was packed!
And the Mass was absolutely beautiful. The music ensemble is the best I’ve heard in a parish, and the readings were proclaimed both in Spanish and English. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was the principal celebrant, and his homily offered a message of hope and inspiration to all of us in the pews, not only to Frank.
Cardinal McCarrick told Frank to take heart in knowing that in accepting his vocation, he would never walk alone. It felt as though McCarrick was reminding each of us of our membership in the Church family.
Later, the cardinal addressed the youth of the parish and encouraged them to consider what God might be calling them to do. Cardinal McCarrick’s tone was one of love, not admonition, and it was genuinely moving.
The entire day was a reminder of so many good things that go on in our Church. The liturgy was a joyful celebration of the love that binds together all Catholics under God, our Father. A palpable spirit of unity colored the Mass in a way I had not personally experienced in church for far too long a time.
When I decided to make the trip, I was looking forward to visiting other friends in the D.C. area and reconnecting with Frank. And, oh by the way, I’d see an ordination, too.
But the experience was much more than that in the long run. Seeing Frank make his commitment to God, and feeling his community embrace him with such love and warmth, was a faith-affirming moment in my personal journey.
May God bless you and keep you, Father Frank!