November 16, 2019
It was a fine day for an ordination. The morning of Saturday, October 26th, was cool and clear in Providence, Rhode Island, and the early sun illuminated the stone belfry of the church of St. Mary, our apostolate in Rhode Island’s capital city, just like a postcard. Inside, the crowds had already begun to gather an hour ahead of time as final preparations were made for the priestly ordination of Fr. William Rock, the FSSP’s newest priest.
Hosting an ordination at one of our own parishes is an unusual occurrence and a great privilege, and St. Mary’s provided the perfect setting for such an occasion. Completed in 1869 and consecrated in 1901, the stunning granite structure features soaring Gothic-style arches and beautiful stained glass windows. The parish put in a great deal of work lately restoring the sanctuary, which involved removing the carpet, cleaning the underlying floor, and painting parts of it to match the red marble inlays of the newly-installed altar rail that was retrieved from a closing church in Boston and given a new lease on life at the Providence parish. What made the setting especially suitable for this particular ordination was not only the majesty of the church, but also the fact that Fr. Rock has been resident at St. Mary’s for the past year, assisting pastor Fr. John Berg with various parish duties, and he continues on as assistant pastor now that the Sacred Oil is on his hands. So one can imagine that this day held a special meaning for the parishioners of St. Mary’s, who have worked alongside Fr. Rock and Fr. Berg to build up the year-old apostolate and to prepare for this day’s events.
His Excellency the Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, presided over the ordination of Fr. Rock, who becomes the 6th priest ordained for FSSP North America this year after four were ordained in Nebraska and one in Canada this past May. It was a joy for the Fraternity to once again welcome Bishop Schneider, who ordained seven of our deacons in 2014 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. Assisting at the Mass were Fr. John Killackey as deacon, Fr. Matthew Vierno as subdeacon and Superior General Fr. Andrzej Komorowski as assistant priest, with North American Superior Fr. Michael Stinson and FSSP founder and seminary Rector, the Very Rev. Fr. Josef Bisig, also assisting.
The queue was long for first blessings after Mass, the newly-consecrated Fr. Rock working through the lines tirelessly after the three-hour ordination ceremony and the faithful waiting patiently for their turn to receive the special blessing, which a priest can give for a year following his ordination and can only be received once from each priest. Outside, others waited to greet Bishop Schneider, who generously received the many who wished to meet him at a table set up in the midst of the reception that took place in the parking lot of St. Mary’s. The weather continued to be sunny and pleasant, an ideal autumn day, as the crowds partook of the many tasty offerings ranging from barbecue sandwiches, to cider, coffee and wine, to a cake emblazoned with the FSSP shield.
The next day, Sunday, October 27th, Bishop Schneider celebrated the 8 a.m. Low Mass, which was followed by Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. At 10 a.m., Fr. Rock celebrated his first Mass, a Solemn High at which he was assisted by Fr. Martin Rangel-Garcia, assistant at FSSP Mexico City, Fr. Aaron Liebert, assistant at FSSP Nashua and Fr. Benoît Guichard of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary. Fr. Rock again offered first blessings to the faithful after Mass, and the weekend’s festivities were capped with an informal coffee reception at which the attendees made an attempt to chow through the copious victuals left over from the previous day.
When Fr. Rock finally made it to the reception, he was greeted with applause and expressed his gratitude to all those who supported him during his years of seminary. We join him in thanking you for your spiritual and financial support of our priests and seminarians. As we look back on a year that, Fraternity-wide, saw 12 new priests ordained in four ordination ceremonies in three different countries, we can’t help but be overwhelmed by the immeasurable generosity of God in granting us such sustained growth. Please continue to pray for the Fraternity, that we may always be the priests described in the beautiful prayer that our new priests hear during their ordination, after the bishop vests them in the chasuble:
O God, the source of all holiness, of Whom are true consecration and the fullness of blessing, pour down, O Lord, on this Thy servant whom we now call to the honor of the Priesthood, the grace of Thy + blessing; that by the gravity of his actions and the example of his life, he may show himself to be an elder formed by the rule that Paul gave to Titus and Timothy; that meditating on Thy law day and night, he may believe what he reads, teach what he believes, conform to what he teaches, giving proof in himself and setting an example of justice, steadfastness, mercy, fortitude as well as all the other virtues; and by his admonition confirm others in the same, keeping the gift of his ministry pure and undefiled. May his holy blessing change for the service of Thy people bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Thy Son; and having attained through persevering charity unto mature manhood, and in old age received the fullness of Christ, may he rise again on the Day of the just and everlasting Judgment of God with a good conscience, faith unfeigned, and imbued with the Holy Ghost. +
The Rhode Island Catholic published a story yesterday on the ordination with thoughts from Fr. Rock and his family, as well as others who attended the ordination. Read it here!
All photos by Mark Garrepy, except those unattributed in the body of the article and those attributed to the Missive in the gallery.