ROCHESTER — One by one, more than 60 priests laid their hands upon Father John Loncle, bestowing silent prayer and blessing.
This repeated act was a touching reminder that a priestly ordination carries special meaning not only for the newly ordained, but also for their brethren, as those priests reflect on their own lives of priestly service.
Father Loncle, 41, was ordained by Bishop Matthew H. Clark June 4 at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He was the only diocesan priest to be ordained in 2005, and will begin in late June with his first priestly assignment — as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart.
Pervasive joy was evident as Father Loncle twice received standing ovations — at the end of the presentation, the first step in the Rite of Ordination; and at the rite’s conclusion. During both ovations, the majority of priests beamed and earnestly applauded.
“It’s a very powerful experience, just knowing that my brother priests are praying for me,” Father Loncle remarked after the Mass.
Following the first standing ovation, Bishop Clark touched off laughter when he remarked, “I think we’ve done a good thing.”
The 90-minute ordination liturgy was attended by approximately 275 of Father Loncle’s family members, friends and other well-wishers in addition to the priests, deacons and Diocesan Festival Choir. During his homily, Bishop Clark paid special tribute to three diocesan priests — Fathers John Philipps and Daniel Tormey, who are celebrating their 50th anniversaries in the priesthood; and Father Otto Vogt, who is observing his 55th.
“It’s a coincidence being here on the same day, the 4th of June, same time, same place,” Father Tormey said. “It brings back a lot of memories.”
“These men ‚Ä¶ still spill over with the joy of it all,” Bishop Clark said of the longtime priests.
Bishop Clark remarked that the ordination is invigorating not only for the priests, but for all who attend as they are reminded of their call by God. The bishop strove to include all who attended, asking who in the congregation had never been to an ordination (many hadn’t) and singling out the parishes where Father Loncle served while in formation, St. Mary’s in Canandaigua and St. Helen’s in Gates, as well as the new priest’s childhood parishes, St. Monica in Rochester and St. John of Rochester in Fairport.
The bishop’s most heartfelt comments were reserved, of course, for his newest charge. He said his “fondest hope” for Father Loncle is that his ordination will serve as “a source of lifelong joy, direction and peace.”
Father Loncle’s exuberance was evident throughout the morning, as he smiled through the majority of the Mass as well as during the reception that followed in the newly renovated cathedral’s narthex. He pointed out that all sacraments involve receiving the Holy Spirit, and that “if you’re open to it, it shows.”
The Holy Spirit was also the central focus of what may have been the most personally memorable portion of his ordination — the Litany of Saints. Father Loncle noted while once attending a deacon’s ordination, he felt the Holy Spirit “dancing in my heart.”
“Thanks be to God, I had the same experience today,” he said.
Contains reporting by Brianna Farnand.