Laborer for the Vineyard
Article by Edyta Wolk
Photos by Wayne Gignac
Family, friends, and Catholics from around the Diocese of Norwich joyfully celebrated as Bishop Michael R. Cote, D.D. ordained Francis John Gilbert to the holy priesthood on June 30 at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick.
Many gathered for the momentous occasion, and the large cathedral was brimming as the elect, joined by fellow diocesan priests and deacons, processed into the church to the beautiful sound of the cathedral choir.
The Rite of Ordination began with the presentation to the bishop of elect Frank Gilbert by Reverend Gregory Galvin, the vocation director for the diocese. All present stood and applauded to show their consent.
Bishop Cote delivered the homily, which focused on the nature of the call to the priesthood and the gift that it is to those it serves.
“In the sacrament you are about to receive, you meet the Lord Jesus, the mediator of the new and everlasting covenant,” he said. “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit with the indelible mark of those in the ranks of the priesthood. You are conformed to become ‘another Christ,’ and you are given a share in his saving work to teach, to shepherd and to sanctify.”
Bishop Cote explained, “As priest, it will be your blessed task to help others come to know God’s love for them.” He added, “Frank, your vocation is to become one with the Lord in the sincere and generous gift of yourself so that others might have life and have it more abundantly…”
Acknowledging the elect’s family seated in the front pews, Bishop Cote also reflected on the importance of loved ones setting an example of faith. “Every vocation is from God. But, it is nurtured in families,” he said.
After the homily, the elect prostrated himself before the altar as the litany of supplication was sung, during which all present, through the intercession of the saints, ask for God’s grace to be upon the new priest.
Bishop Cote then laid his hands upon the head of the elect, and all other concelebrating priests did the same. This was followed by the recitation of the prayer of ordination. It was through this laying on of hands that the sacrament of Holy Orders was conferred.
Father Frank was vested with his stole and chasuble by Reverend Willian Murphy, the director of spiritual formation at St. Pope John XXIII National Seminary. Bishop Cote then anointed Father Frank’s hands with holy chrism oil, symbolizing his participation in Christ’s priesthood. The new priest also received a paten and chalice, and all fellow priests once again approached him to extend a fraternal kiss of peace. Afterwards, he was able to concelebrate the Eucharist for the first time.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Cote announced Father Frank’s assignment as parochial vicar to Saint Bridget of Kildare Parish, Moodus, and Saint Patrick Parish, East Hampton. Then all were invited to a reception downstairs, during which those wanting a blessing formed a long line in front of the new priest.
Father Frank was thus sent forth on his mission to serve in the diocese, keeping in mind Bishop Cote’s words: “May you always guide others through Christ and in the Holy Spirit to their Father’s eternal home.”