Diocese Celebrate Joyful
Ordination of Two Priests

By Michael Strammiello, Executive Editor, Four County Catholic

Norwich - Saturday, July 26, 2014 at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Norwich, Father Jonathan Joseph Ficara and Father Martin John Noe were ordained to the Priesthood by the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D., Bishop of Norwich, among family, friends, priests, deacons, seminarians and Knights of Columbus Honor Guard. It was a joyous occasion.

The front entrance to the Cathedral was appropriately decorated with a row of gold and white flags. Gold and white are the papal colors, signifying on this day that the welcoming of two new priests was an occasion for the entire Church to rejoice. The large arching Cathedral front doors were open inviting all to enter, while filling the church grounds with the exuberant sound of the Cathedral pipe organ – all before the ceremony even began. The entire Union Park neighborhood was alive with the sights, sounds and presence of a steady flow of parishioners and visitors making their way into church. 

Once inside, the sparkling restoration created an especially welcoming environment for a day of this magnitude and grace. It all began on schedule as the two ordinands moved in procession with the priests, deacons and Bishop Cote down the center aisle toward the place and moment their calling would be fulfilled. Above in the choir loft, the choir sang “For we can only wonder at every gift You send, at every blessing without number…” A message reinforced by Bishop Cote as he “Thanked God for the gift of their vocation.” Early and often, the congregation was energetic in their singing along with Cantor, Carol Mailhot and very expressive with vigorous applause and voices raised to acknowledge their support of the two ordinands. The spontaneous applause at several points in the ceremony were the loudest and most sustained I have ever heard in church. An unmistakable sense of a supportive “village” was present with regard to so many who encouraged and prayed for these two men all along their path to the priesthood.

For much of the early part of the ceremonies, candidates Jonathan Ficara and Martin Noe sat on chairs, dressed in white albs, facing the Bishop. Their vestments hung for all to see on a coat tree nearby in the sanctuary soon to be theirs once conferred with the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They would then, as the Bishop described, “assume Christ’s sacred ministry.” 

One of the most stirring liturgical moments in the ceremony is when the elect prostrate themselves, as all present plead for God’s grace for the candidates. Among the named saints in the litany of supplication were Saint Jonathan Vilma and Saint Martin. Immediately following this tradition of humility and commitment came the laying on of hands. It is through the laying on of hands first by the Bishop and followed by the Vicar General, Chancellor and all concelebrating priests that the gift of the Holy Spirit for the priestly office is conferred on the candidates.

Another wonderfully poignant tradition is the Bishop giving each newly conferred priest a congratulatory hug, inviting each priest present to then individually offer Father Jonathan and Father Martin a hug welcoming them to the priesthood. While this was happening, guest musician Derek Joly standing in the choir loft, filled the church with the heavenly sound of his soprano saxophone. It was exceptional. Several members of the choir said they were brought to tears by how beautifully he played. It was just perfect accompaniment for such a beautiful ceremony. Congratulations to Music Director Douglas Green.

As ordained priests, Father Jonathan and Father Martin had the opportunity to distribute communion to immediate family and friends and to impart their first blessings on Bishop Cote and family.

As the day’s ceremony concluded, Bishop Cote prayed “that the diocese’s two newest shepherds may continue to grow in faith.” At that moment, thunderous applause and cheering overtook the congregation. Congratulations Father Jon and Father Martin.