Most Rev. Larry J. Kulick, J.C.L., bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg, ordained three Benedictines from Saint Vincent Archabbey to the priesthood and one to the diaconate on May 14 in the Archabbey Basilica. The new priests are Father Samuel Pinheiro, O.S.B., from Vinhedo, Brazil; Father Francis Jin, O.S.B., from Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China; and Father Barnabas O’Reilly, O.S.B., from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Ordained a deacon was Brother Celestine, O.S.B., who is also from China.
Bishop Kulick congratulated the ordinands and their family members—both blood and religious—who have supported them in their vocational journeys. In his homily he said he was reminded of his recent travels during the Easter season when he conferred the sacrament of confirmation upon many young people in the diocese. Noting that there is a certain level of expectation of knowledge of the sacrament they are about to receive, Bishop Kulick said that in his conversations with them they discuss the importance of the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
In those discussions, he said he asks them the significance of that third person of the Blessed Trinity and how that person comes to settle and pour forth upon each of them the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“In prayerful discernment and preparation for today’s celebration,” Bishop Kulick said, “I was thinking about the Holy Spirit and how in this ordination rite we believe that the rites and the rituals that we will be undertaking both for the diaconate and for the priesthood are rooted in the ancient tradition of the Church.”
Those include, he said, “the laying on of hands, that invocation to the Holy Spirit, that Holy Spirit who comes down upon each of you today in this ordination ceremony and imparts to you that powerful, that unique, and that special grace, to move forth in the name of the Church, built first and foremost upon the sacrament of baptism, sealed with the sacrament of confirmation, nourished by the the eucharist.
“You go forth, in the name of the Church to proclaim the Gospel, to celebrate the sacred mysteries, to bring God’s word and his eucharist to his people in every time and in every season. That same Holy Spirit that came down upon the apostles, that same Holy Spirit that came upon you at your baptism, that same Holy Spirit that came upon you at confirmation, that same Holy Spirit that gives life to the church and animates each of us, will come down upon you. These ordinations are not, as we all know so well, transitions and entrance simply into a different class of being. But they are indeed moments of grace to empower each of you to the very important and the very necessary work of spreading the Gospel, of proclaiming Christ to the world.
Bishop Kulick said he often asks the young people at confirmation about the symbols of the Holy Spirit, the dove, the fire. Delving deeper, other images come forth, including eventually, wind, and breath.
“And my dear brothers,” he said, “I would ask you today on the day of your ordination to think about that image of breath you know so well from your theological and scriptural studies that have brought you to this point, the great story of creation, of God breathing life, the very beginning of humankind’s existince. And not only has he breathed that gift of life into you in your own natural, human life, begun at the first moment of your conception, but he has continually strengthened you with that breath of life through the power of his grace.
And today, once again that breath which symbolizes life, will envelop you. It will give you a breath that can boldly proclaim the Gospel and preach God’s word in season and out of season. It will be that breath that will allow you not only to physically have the energy sometimes in trying and difficult times and even sometimes with great physical as well as emotional demands, to carry the sacraments of the Church to those in need, to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass to nourish God’s people with his Eucharist.
“That breath of life is so important,” Bishop Kulick said, “natural and spiritual. We also know that with that breath is the symbol of wind, wind that refreshes, wind that invigorates. The church is called today more than ever to bring that freshness into people’s lives and into their hearts. You, each of you in your ministries appropriate to your order, must be that fresh breath and that cleansing wind like the Holy Spirit. It continues to purify a Church that is always being continually purified and more imaged like Christ the bridegroom.”
Another symbol of the Holy Spirit, flames, burn, give heat and purify, he noted.
“That gift of the Holy Spirit coming upon you at ordination is to inflame your hearts with a burning love and desire to serve. That flame of the Holy Spirit also purifies, like the psalmist reminds us, of refining the gold, refining constantly the treasure of our faith, the preciousness of our faith, and ever making it new and pure. It is also that wind that spreads the message far and wide. And, acoustically, helps you figuratively and maybe even sometimes literally, to allow your voice to go and to be heard even louder.”
The final symbol, he said, is the color red, “a symbol of warmth, in which the charity of love must constantly urge you in your mission. But red is also, as you all know, the symbol of blood. The blood that as priests you make real in that sacrifice on the altar where Christ shed his blood for our salvation. You bring that body and that blood to the people of God so that they can better be conformed in their own sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ. But the red, the red also reminds us of the blood of martyrdom.
“And my dear friends we must remind ourselves, my dear brothers especially, that in taking on both the obligation, the responsibility and the privilege of sacred orders, in following and responding to your vocation rooted in Christian discipleship, you are called now and will be expected to give of yourself as Christ the high piriest gave totally of himself, not only in the promises that you will make and have made to celibate life, to a life of chastity in imitation of our Lord’s complete service, and giving of ourselves in ministry, but also we are called to carry that sacrifice.”
Pope Francis, Bishop Kulick said, described the life of priests, deacons and clerics not as living lives of luxury or self-determination, but, like Christ the high priest, lives where they empty themselves. “That’s what the grace of God will call you to. But it may also demand of you, not just figuratively or symbolically, spiritual martyrdom. It may demand of you giving your all. Who would ever think, myself included, that we would be living in an environment in which we are increasingly and pastorally, with sensitivity, leading and guiding the people with compassion and right judgement? We will each of us, you in your ministries, all of the people
of God, at times have to make very difficult decisions: Where do we stand? What do we stand for?”
Ordination, he said, brings the men into the hierarchical structure of the church and also imposes upon them the further obligation of being a representative of the Church, rooted as a disciple of Christ.
“You will need to make stands,” Bishop Kulick said, “to be teachers of the faith, witnesses of the truth and maybe even martyrs for Christ. You will be called upon to lead most importantly, by example. And you know—you don’t need me to tell you—you’ve experienced it already in your formation, in your life. People will see your authenticity by the way in which you live your life and by the way in which you give yourself in service and empty yourself for the people of God, not making excuses that ‘I can’t do’ something, but saying ‘I will do’ something and ‘I need to do’ even more.”
Pope Francis, he said, also describes the role of the priest as one of accompaniment. “We must accompany God’s people. Accompany them without in any way compromising our faith and morals and that of the Church. But we must meet them where they are and bring them to that fullness of truth. And you know my brothers, we all know it, my brother priests as well, that takes a lot more time, that takes a lot more energy, sometimes a lot more, of the pouring out of ourselves. But that’s what the world needs and that’s what it is going to be looking for you to do. Be there. In good times and in bad. Proclaim the Gospel. In season and out of season. Stay so close to our Eucharistic Lord, offering the Mass reverently, offering it as a sign of the beauty of which Christ gave it to us. You, my brother priests, will be the custodians of those blessed and sacred sacraments. My brother deacon, you will be the custodian of the word of God. Proclaim it well. Preach it. The people are starving not only to hear the word of God, believe me as a bishop they are starving to hear wonderful, engaging homilies that draw them into the living Gospel itself. My dear brothers, as you now prepare to receive Holy Orders, the Order of Deacon, the Order of Priest, if Christ can more perfectly form you by this gift of the Holy Spirit, as we all know, the Church teaches us, the sacramental life of the Church, that graces received in sacraments are not magic. They are graces that fills our hearts, and as I tell the young people so often, like the water that comes down to fill and form a reservoir for our souls so that in many days whether that’s a year from your ordination or fifty years or sixty years, the grace received today is there to be drawn upon. Christ the high priest will be with you. He will support you. He will strengthen you. Go forth today as a good deacon, a holy deacon, as a good priest, as a holy priest. Let people look at you and see no difference than if they were looking at Christ himself.”
FATHER SAMUEL PINHEIRO, O.S.B.
Father Samuel is the son of Adão Jose Pinheiro and Vanía Aparecida Pedro Pinheiro of Limeíra, Brazil. He is a 2008 graduate of Colegio Pro Cotil, Limeíra, São Paulo. He has a licentiate in philosophy degree (Ph.L.) from the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas, São Paulo. He professed simple vows on January 20, 2013 and made solemn profession of vows on November 6, 2016 at Saint Vincent’s priory located in the city of Vinhedo, São Paulo.
He began studies at Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017, graduating with a master of divinity degree in 2021. He was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Kulick of on May 22, 2021 in the Basilica. At the Archabbey, his assignments have included assistant to the prior (2017-present); assistant, Basilica Gift Shop (2017-2019); assistant, summer retreat program (2019-present) and assistant director, guests and guest facilities (2019-present).
FATHER FRANCIS JIN, O.S.B.
Father Francis is the son of Wuxing Jin and Xuezhen Li of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China. He earned a bachelor of electrical engineering degree from Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2009. He began studies at Saint Vincent Seminary in 2016, and in 2018, he received the master of arts degree in Catholic philosophical studies. In 2022, he earned the master of divinity degree, cum laude, and the bachelor of sacred theology degree, magna cum laude, which is given in conjunction with Sant’ Anselmo, the international Benedictine university in Rome.
He entered the novitiate at Saint Vincent Archabbey on July 1, 2015 and made simple profession of monastic vows on July 10, 2016. He professed solemn vows on July 11, 2019. He was ordained to the diaconate in the Archabbey Basilica on May 22, 2021 by Bishop Kulick.
Following his first profession of vows his assignments have included assistant to the prior (2016-2020); assistant to the director of the college bookstore (2016-2018); socius of novices (2017-2020) and socius of postulants (2019-2020). He is vocation office guest master (2018-present), was a Benedictine resident in Aurelius Hall (2020-2021) and is assistant to the director of campus ministry (2020-present).
FATHER BARNABAS O’REILLY, O.S.B.
Father Barnabas is the son of Lawrence and Eileen O’Reilly of Johnstown. He is a 2008 graduate of Bishop McCort High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology in 2012 from Saint Vincent College. He began studies at Saint Vincent Seminary in 2016. In 2018, he received the master of arts degree in Catholic philosophical studies, cum laude. He earned the master of divinity degree from the Seminary in 2022.
He entered the novitiate at Saint Vincent Archabbey on July 1, 2015 and made simple profession of monastic vows on July 10, 2016. He made solemn profession of vows on July 11, 2019. He was ordained to the diaconate in the Archabbey Basilica on May 22, 2021 by Bishop Kulick.
Prior to entering the monastery, he was employed as a laboratory technician at the University of Pittsburgh and then worked for two years with a Catholic Missionary group known as “Saint Paul’s Outreach” (SPO) at West Virginia University.
Following simple profession, he was assigned as assistant to the director of Campus Ministry, Saint Vincent College (2016-present), and a Benedictine resident in Gerard Hall (2016-present).
BROTHER CELESTINE XU, O.S.B.
Brother Celestine was born in a traditional Buddhist family. He is the only child of Hong and Yan of Shanghai. He was converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 2000 in Shanghai. In 2001 he was baptized in Saint Ignatius Loyola Basilica.
He spent several years working at Shanghai Consulting Company. He began studies at Saint Vincent Seminary (2016-present).
He entered the novitiate of Saint Vincent Archabbey on July 1, 2015, and made simple profession of monastic vows on July 10, 2016. He professed solemn vows on July 11, 2019.
Following profession he was assigned as assistant to the director, Saint Vincent Gallery and assistant to the director, Saint Vincent Concert Series (2016-present). In 2017 he was named assistant to the director of vocations. In 2018 he was given the additional assignment of assistant director, Archabbey art collection. He was appointed as an assistant to the director of the Saint Vincent College bookstore in 2020.
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