Hello and welcome!
Each year around this time, after they have had a chance to settle in to their new parish assignments, I like to invite some of our newly ordained priests to share some of their experiences with you.
This week, I have asked Father Karlo Hocurscak to tell you a little about himself. Next week, we will hear from Father Mark Storey.
I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!
– Cardinal Seán
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When I look back on my ordination day of May 24th, I can only remember the joy I felt that day. I lived at St. John’s Seminary for six years leading up to my ordination to the priesthood. Studying at the seminary was a privileged time in my life as I was focused on learning about theology and deepening my relationship with Christ and his Church. Studying at St. John’s Seminary was challenging, but it affirmed in me the conviction that Jesus was calling me to be His priest. Now that my time in the seminary was over after six years, the day I dreamed about had finally arrived.
When the ordination began, the nine of us who were to be ordained processed into the Cathedral and I was able to see all the various groups of people who I knew from my journey toward priesthood. There was a group of people from my home parish of Sacred Hearts in Bradford, where I was for ten years before I decided to enter the seminary. There was also a large group from the tri-parishes in Brockton of St. Edith Stein, Christ the King, and Our Lady of Lourdes where I was assigned as a deacon who came out to watch my ordination. There were other people who came from other locations as well, such as my family and friends including a Third Order Carmelite who prayed for me every day for six years in her daily prayers. It was wonderful to see so many people who walked with me on my journey to the priesthood being able to see my ordination.
The experience of being ordained is something that is hard to put into words. In the seminary, we learned a lot about what the priesthood is. While study of the priesthood is necessary and beautiful when I think about how Jesus wants me to share in His priesthood, no amount of study can cover the complete reality of the priest as it is wrapped into the mystery of Christ himself whom we can never know completely. God has an individual plan for each and every one of his priests and I will spend the rest of my life discovering what that is. Before the awesomeness of this moment in my life, all I could think to do was to ask the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and to make me a holy priest after the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
You can sometimes worry about things that can go wrong and I had that moment during my ordination. After I was ordained Cardinal O’Malley anointed my hands with chrism oil. Since as a priest, I consecrate the Eucharist and carry out many of my priestly duties using my hands, they are anointed as a sign that my hands are to be used to carry out sacred works.
After my hands were anointed, I was supposed to wipe the oil off of my hands, but the purificator that I thought was waiting for me was not at my seat. I can tell you that Cardinal O’Malley was very generous with the oil when he anointed my hands. Therefore I started to worry because I had a lot of oil on my hands. Next, we all had to go up and to receive the chalice and paten from the Cardinal as a sign of our priestly duty to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the Christian people. During our rehearsal we were told to grab the chalice and paten like we were going to take it from the Cardinal. But as you can see, I was barely touching it because I still had the chrism oil all over my hands.
Now I was really starting to worry because the next part was going to be the kiss of peace where all the priests were going to come up to me to welcome me into the priesthood. There was no way that I could possibly keep the oil on my hand with more than a hundred priests coming to greet me.
The reason that I wanted to wipe my hands clean with a purificator is because there is a tradition that a newly ordained priest gives it to his mother. When the mother of a priest dies, the cloth used to wipe the chrism from a newly ordained priest is placed in her hands and she is buried with it. Then at the resurrection for the final judgment, the mother would have the cloth with the chrism on it to show as a sign that she gave a son to the Church to share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Finally somebody saw that I still needed to wipe my hands and got me a purificator which the photographer from the Pilot caught me using.
Now with oil free hands, I was able to exchange the sign of peace with Cardinal O’Malley and my new brother priests.
After the ordination, we gathered all together for a group photo with the class. Our ordination class of nine was the largest ordination for Boston in over ten years. Let us pray that more men will listen to if Christ is calling them to the priesthood and to generously answer that call to serve Christ as his priest.
I had my first Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Lourdes in Brockton. It was where I was assigned for my pastoral assignment for my final two years in the seminary which included my time as a transitional deacon. It was wonderful to be able to say Mass in a parish where many people were able to accompany me on my journey as I drew closer to my priesthood ordination. Having prepared for six years to be a priest, it is a surreal experience to be able to offer the sacrifice of the Mass. I would also like to thank the pastor, and my friend, Fr. Joseph Raeke. His example to me and his willingness to share his 34 years of priesthood with me made my pastoral assignment with him a joy and helped to prepare me for priesthood in a way that I would not have been able to do without his guidance.
My first assignment is in Beverly. I am currently serving in St. Mary Star of the Sea, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Margaret. I am assigned with Fr. Mark Mahoney who taught a course at the seminary during my last year at St. John’s Seminary. When I heard that I was assigned to work with Fr. Mahoney I was very excited to know that he would be my future pastor.
St. Mary Star of the Sea
St. John the Evangelist
The day before my starting date in the Beverly collaborative a fundraiser golf tournament was held for St. Mary’s School. I happily accepted an invitation to join. So I got to play golf for my first day in the parish. If my friends from the seminary learned that, they might be a little jealous.
It was a beautiful day, but my golf skills where not very good. I told anyone who saw me swing at the ball that I spent more time studying theology than working on my golf game. Even though my team did not win, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet people in the parish and for us to get to know each other.
My first few weeks in Beverly have been wonderful. The people have been very welcoming to me as I have been adjusting to life as a priest. I have had many first experiences as a priest in Beverly. In my first three weeks in Beverly, I have had my first anointing, confession, funeral, and many first Masses in the collaborative, as there are nine weekend Masses that are offered in Beverly. My first month of priesthood has been a joy. Yes, the life of a priest is busy, but if God gives strength to His priests to carry out His holy will. One thing that I would ask though is if you have some spare moment during the week, please pray for more holy priests who are willing to serve Christ and His Church to lead the people of God to Christ.