Celebration in Schoenstatt: A new priest and a new deacon for the Schoenstatt Fathers
"Here I am", resonated twice at the Pilgrim's Church in Schoenstatt, Vallendar, on May 9, 2021. Jakob Busch, from Langenber, district of Gütersloh, and deacon Johannes Oelighoff, from Giessen, were presented to the officiating bishop by Father Theo Breitinger, superior of the Sion Province of the Schoenstatt Fathers, as candidates for ordination to the diaconate and priesthood, respectively. A short time before, Father Breitinger had warmly welcomed the bishop, Monsignor Stephan Ackermann, of the Trier diocese, where Schoenstatt is located, to the ordination ceremony.
13. May 2021
Monsignor Ackermann was very pleased to be in Schoenstatt for an ordination for the first time. He emphasized that, when the ordination of deacon and priest take place in the same celebration, it becomes especially visible how, in these two ministries of the Church, authority and love are intrinsically connected. In his homily, Ackermann chose three words from the Gospel corresponding to the 6th Sunday after Easter, from Jesus’ farewell messages (John 15:9-17), which would be meaningful with regard to this ordination: choice – devotion – joy.
Jesus clearly said: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” Monsignor Ackermann wondered “Is this a way to talk to friends? Especially nowadays where we live in such a freedom-loving world, these are annoying words. We do not like to opt after the fact for what others have already determined and chosen for us. But freedom of choice can also become a burden”, he declared. ” People do not automatically become happier because they have greater opportunities to choose. In reality, the happiness in our lives consists of being chosen. Choice means that we live from the depth of experience: I love you, I want you, I need you. Faced with the upcoming ordination and the decision of the candidates, this experience offers some relief”, he said.
In the invitation to the ordination of deacon and priest, this biblical verse was printed as a common motto: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. During his priestly formation, Bishop Ackermann disclosed, he argued passionately with his friends about why Jesus said “friends” and not “enemies.” “After all, that would be much more powerful, to lay down one’s life for one’s enemies,” he said. He continued: “But Jesus never wants to overwhelm, he doesn’t ask us to do the impossible. To lay down one’s life for one’s enemies, only God can do that. Since Jesus gave his life, the dividing line between enemy and friend has been blurred. This is also the first and sometimes most difficult step of giving oneself: to stop classifying people, to stop dividing them into friends and enemies. Today’s reading (Acts 3: 1-10), the healing of the lame man at the gate of the temple by Peter and John, describes very precisely what is the consequence of devotion. The apostles do not overlook the lame man. They look at him, they establish contact, they enter into a relationship, they perceive who he is, they are not afraid of contact. In this way, Christ’s power can act,” Ackermann concluded.
The third key word that the bishop emphasized was joy: “Joy is the true objective of Jesus’ mission, not hardship. Joy is not a superficial joy or a permanent need to be good. Joy lies in knowing that we are looked upon by Jesus, that we are loved and chosen by Him. Jesus puts the seed of joy in the human being, so that it may grow and bear fruit. Recognizing joy, exploring it and growing in the fullness of God is a worthwhile task,” he said. He then addressed the two candidates for ordination directly, saying that “we want you to feel this joy throughout your lives. This joy can and should continue to grow from today, and may it motivate you to commit yourselves anew to the service of others. Our wish for you is that this service will be fruitful.”
Consecration through the laying of hands and prayer
After the Liturgy of the Word, the remarkable moments of the ordination took place. The candidates presented themselves before the bishop and expressed their acceptance of voluntary celibacy, service to the Word of God and the people, obedience to their superiors and regular prayer. During the invocation of all the saints, vibrantly sung by the musical group, both candidates for ordination lay down on the floor in front of the altar. In doing so, they expressed their readiness to give themselves completely to God.
Invocation of saints:
The bishop, as the apostles did according to biblical testimony, silently laid his hands on the heads of the candidates and, together with a prayer of consecration, offered them the diaconal and priestly ministry. Jakob Busch received the stole of the cross as an outward expression of his diaconate, in addition to the liturgical vestments. The handing over of the book of the Gospel is a sign of his task to proclaim the Word of God in liturgy and in life.
After the imposition of hands by the other main celebrants, Johannes Oelighoff received the priestly vestments of stole and chasuble. Bishop Ackermann anointed the hands of the new priest with the holy chrism and asked God to strengthen him in his ministry. The new priest’s parents offered the paten with the bread and the chalice with the wine, which the bishop presented to Father Oelighoff with the words: “Receive the gifts of the people for the celebration of the sacrifice. Consider what you do, imitate what you perform and place your life under the mystery of the Cross.” The bishop then embraced the newly ordained, confirming with this fraternal sign their welcome into their new ministry.
During the celebration of the Eucharist, Deacon Jakob Busch assisted the bishop. At the end of the Mass, Father Johannes Oelighoff was invited by Bishop Ackermann to give the blessing as new priest to all present and to those following the service online.
At the end of the celebration, Father Breitinger thanked Bishop Ackermann for the consecration and his words of encouragement. His words about the joy of the two candidates will surely resonate for a long time, as their course ideal is “Full of joy, be luminous bearers of Christ.” Fr. Breitinger also thanked the musical group who had rehearsed online for weeks and organized the celebration with high quality and lively music. Special thanks also went to the collaborators of schoenstatt-tv.de, who transmitted the celebration via internet. This way, many guests from all parts of Germany who could not be present because of the pandemic were able to follow the celebration on the Internet.
At the end, the two newly consecrated expressed their gratitude to all those who joined them “by whom we feel very supported.” Then they invited them to have a drink, to toast them and send them a photo. For those present at the Mass, there were take-away bags with delicious contents that “should make up, at least a little, for not being able to celebrate together.”
Fotos: H.Brehm – www.schoenstatt.de