The summer is here and people are enjoying themselves with vacations and hopefully some good weather. God’s creation around us has taken on a lush green after so much rain, colored in such a variegated way by flowers, in particular the rhododendron blossoms and the primroses which are seen in so many places. West Virginia has a specific beauty all its own, framed from so many trees and crowned by its rolling mountains. I hope that you and your family find time this summer to enjoy the beauty around us with which God has so generously blessed us. Take a moment during these warm days to pause and thank the God of all creation who has given us the world, our common home, and ask Him to continue to bless us, a single family, with peace.
As you saw on the front page of this issue of The Catholic Spirit, we were blessed with the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Martin Smay at St. Joseph’s Cathedral last weekend. It was a wonderful moment for me as your Bishop. Father Smay began his formation for the priesthood soon after completing his engineering degree at West Virginia University. I have watched him since his first days in the seminary formation program grow into the priest he is today, a priest that I was proud to ordain.
The Cathedral was filled with our priests and deacons, as well as our seminarians, who came together to celebrate the wonderful moment in the life of our Diocese. It is always moving for me to see our priests each imposing hands on the ordinand’s head, claiming him for Christ and His Priesthood, which they will share with him for the rest of their lives. This and seeing the new priest be vested are among the most treasured moments for me in the Ordination Rite. I was glad that so many were from Father Smay’s home parish of Corpus Christi in Wheeling, as well as the parishes he served as a deacon and seminarian and from St. John University Parish, joined with Serrans and others to be part of this Ordination. His parents and his grandmother were so evidently proud of their son and his siblings gathered around him in a wonderful moment of joy. Watching this faith-filled community supporting and enjoying the family of the new priest is really a great treat for a Bishop. It is moments like these that bring home to me, as Bishop, how wonderful and rewarding my life among you is and how blessed I am with so much grace and goodness around me. It all becomes so evident in celebrations like this Ordination, affording me a powerful insight into how really good and precious people of God are and how grateful I am that God has entrusted them to my care. Thankful I am, as well, that God has chosen such wonderful priests, both young and old, newly ordained and those marking significant anniversaries of Ordination, to assist me in ministering to the needs of the people of God throughout our Diocese.
During these summer months, our seminarians are working in several of our parishes, learning about priestly life and ministry by watching our pastors at work. This is an important part of their formation, since parish ministry is where they will spend their priesthood and the affirmation that our people offer them can be a real encouragement to their continued preparation for priesthood. I ask you to make our seminarians feel welcome and to encourage them in their ministry and learning. I look forward to gathering with them at the end of this summer to hear about all that they have learned. I ask for your prayers for all of us who work with and for the Catholic Church of West Virginia that God will provide us with dedicated and hardworking people who truly serve the People of God. They are very precious.