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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Celebrating an Ordination

God willing I will be ordained to the priesthood in November. Many people have been to weddings but far fewer have been to ordinations. So, it is not surprising that I am often asked about what sort of celebration follows an ordination and whether it is similar to the typical celebration after a wedding ceremony.

Well, I'm here to expound on the post-ordination celebration so that those of you who may one day be blessed to attend the ceremony will be sufficiently prepared.

In a wedding, it is pretty typical for the bride to throw her bouquet to the single women at the celebration and sometimes the groom throws the bride's garter. Tradition states that the women who catches the bouquet and the man who catches the garter will be the next married. In the post-ordination celebration it's a bit different. The new priest will throw his collar to the single men at the celebration [at the post-ordination celebration of an Eastern Catholic priest, married men can also attempt to catch the collar], whoever catches the collar will be the next one ordained. Needless to say, this is always a very popular ceremony.

Another well-known tradition at weddings is the dance between the bride and her father and the groom and his mother. Again, things are a bit different at the ordination celebration - the new priest and his mother go to the local confessional where the priest apologizes for causing his mother much grief, promises to visit often and, in return, receives her forgiveness and blessings. [Some very liberal priests have been also known to join their mother in a celebratory liturgical dance, but this is generally frowned upon in our community.]

There also is no dollar-dance at priesthood celebrations. Generally, family and friends will offer the priest some sort of financial contribution in return for joining in a common recitation of the Rosary - with each person taking a different bead or decade. [Again, at celebrations of very liberal priests it has been known for people to offer the new priest money in return for him not doing a liturgical dance with his mother.]

The brother of the new priest is always expected to make the first toast. [For more traditionalist priests, this toast is expected to be in Latin.]

As with some bride and grooms, some priests-to-be have also taken it upon themselves to write their own vows. Again, this is generally frowned upon. [Jesuits excepted]

There are also some special events that take place at the ordination celebration. In memory of the Wedding at Cana, the new priest tries to turn water into wine. If he is successful, there is always much celebration at the money that has been saved. But usually, he fails and the new priest's male relatives must run off to the local liquor store or bar. [Sometimes they even come back.]

The new priest will also deliver his first homily. It always helps to have a friendly audience for this. [Although they may not be so friendly if the homily goes for longer than five minutes.] The guests at the celebration are to make this event as realistic as possible by appearing distracted, checking their watches, and fidgeting often.

Ordination celebrations before Vatican II required that the new priest always face east but you don't see that as much anymore - especially since the halls built for ordination celebrations are built that way nowadays.

I hope that this all helps all of my readers who may be curious about ordination celebrations. Remember, if you get a chance to attend an ordination be sure to go. It will be an event you'll never forget.


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