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On August 2, a fine Thursday morning in St. Louis, the pealing church bells at 10:00 am signaled the beginning of the Rite of Ordination at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, was about to ordain four more priests for Holy Mother Church, and one subdeacon. All Americans, the ordinandi for the priesthood were Deacon Peter Heidenreich, Deacon Benjamin Norman, Deacon Matthew Weaver, and Deacon Luke Zignego. Abbé Alex Barga, a clerical oblate of the Institute, would also be ordained a subdeacon by His Eminence on this occasion.

Fittingly, this being the first Thursday of the month, the Mass celebrated would be the votive Mass of Jesus Christ Eternal High Priest. Later in his homily, the Cardinal would refer passionately to Our Lord as Sovereign Priest, inviting the ordinandi to offer the Holy Sacrifice with him in this Ordination Mass.

The ceremony began with a majestic entrance into the beautiful, 110-year-old church of St. Francis de Sales Oratory. As the church’s organ voiced the glorious concertos of Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach, the ordinandi for the priesthood and for the subdiaconate processed into the church, each appropriately vested for his order, and carrying a lit candle in his right hand. The solemnity of the occasion was emphasized by the large number of clergy in attendance, including seminarians, priests, canons, superiors of the Institute, monsignors, and two Archbishops, His Excellency Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and His Excellency Timothy P. Broglio of the US Military Services. The music crescendoed at the entrance of His Eminence, Cardinal Burke, whose blessing of the faithful swelled the hearts of all in the packed church as he processed solemnly down the nave.   

Graces emanated, flowed, filled, and lifted up the same hearts and minds in the hours that followed. The unity, catholicity, and lineage through the apostles to Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest, was sweetly yet strongly perceptible in the Church’s Sacred Liturgy; the four hours passed as if only one had.

After Mass, the Cardinal was the first to receive the First Blessings from the newly ordained priests, kissing the same hands he had anointed with Sacred Oil when he bestowed upon them the power to offer Sacrifice to God and to celebrate Mass for the living and the dead.

The faithful waited in long lines for their priestly blessings by the new canons. The new bond between the new priest and the flock was beautiful to witness as the each faithful reciprocated by taking a prayer card from each new priest, assenting to remember him in prayer.

On Friday morning, graces continued to pour forth from the altar as each new canon celebrated Holy Mass for the first time, and after the four First Masses had been celebrated, a solemn Te Deum was sung in thanksgiving to Almighty God for His magnanimous Providence.

The members of the Institute extend their heart-felt gratitude to Cardinal Burke for his continued paternal affection and indefatigable generosity in the service of Holy Mother Church, providing her with four new priests for eternity.  Additionally, they wish to express their most sincere thanks to His Excellency, Robert J. Carlson for his permission and blessing to have this glorious ceremony in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.