Priest jubilarians honored at Mass for 330 years of service

Priests celebrating anniversaries process into the Cathedral of St. Andrew June 2 for a celebration Mass with Bishop Anthony B. Taylor.
Priests celebrating anniversaries process into the Cathedral of St. Andrew June 2 for a celebration Mass with Bishop Anthony B. Taylor.

Six priests from throughout Arkansas celebrating anniversaries were joined by their bishop and brother priests June 2 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock as they celebrated their many years of service at a Jubilee Mass.
More than 100 Catholics from the area and more than 20 priests joined Bishop Anthony B. Taylor in honoring seven priests.
60-year anniversaries: Father Placidus Eckart, OSB, a retired priest at Subiaco Abbey, Father Hilary Filiatreau, OSB, pastor of St. Mary Church in Altus, and Msgr. John Kordsmeier, a retired priest living at St. John Manor in Little Rock. Father Eckart was unable to attend the Mass.
50-year anniversaries: Father Raphael Kitz, OCD, of Marylake Monastery, and Msgr. Thomas Sebaugh, director of information systems for the Diocese of Little Rock
25-year anniversaries: Father James Burnie, CSSP, pastor of St. Mary Church in St. Vincent, and Father Gregory G. Hart, pastor of Mary Mother of God Church in Harrison.
“Together they have offered a total of 330 years of service, that is 10 times as much priestly service as I have provided,” Bishop Taylor said during his homily.
A smattering of laughter could be heard in the church when the bishop continued. “And notice that our older guys are made of sturdier metal than the young guys are, we have three 60-year jubilarians and only two 25-year jubilarians.”
Bishop Taylor said he wondered what he could talk about to priests who had served a combined more than 10 times the years as priests as he had.
He settled on using the Gospel reading for the day, Mark 12:13-17.
Bishop Taylor repeated what Jesus told the group, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”
The bishop said it was a good time for the priests celebrating their anniversaries, and for other priests, to reexamine the promises they made at the time they were ordained.
Giving to God what is God’s means fulfilling vows to the Lord, the promises made during ordination, Bishop Taylor said.
The bishop said during his ordination, he recalled promises of chastity and obedience and the rest consisted of three “I do’s” and one “I do with the help of God” during the examination of the candidates.
Those dealt with governing the Church, sanctifying the Church and teaching in the Church, Bishop Taylor said.
“What does God have a right to expect of us, because of our promise?” Bishop Taylor asked.
“We promise to discharge, without fail, in the office of priesthood as a conscientious fellow worker with the bishop in caring for the Lord’s flock,” Bishop Taylor said.
“A bit more serious is our role of sanctifying,” he said. “We resolve to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously as the Church has handed them down to us, for the glory of God, not for our own glory, and for the sanctification of Christ’s people.”
The third vow involves preaching the truth, he said.
“Are you resolved to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and explaining the Catholic faith,” Bishop Taylor said.
“You promised those three things, but one thing more on the day you were ordained, to be faithful to Jesus in governing, in sanctifying and in teaching,” the bishop said. “We will be held to a higher standard because of those promises, than those who have not made those promises. The final promise we make is the one that makes it all possible, and it is a promise to die to ourselves.
“The last thing we promise is, are you resolved to consecrate your life to God for the salvation of his people, to live for the salvation of others, and to unite yourself more closely every day to Christ the High Priest who offered himself for us to the Father as a perfect sacrifice,” the bishop said. “And that is the one that we answer, ’I am, with the help of God.’ Because it is only with the help of God that we can do this. So today as we gather to honor you, to celebrate the 60, 50 and 25 years, to draw upon your priesthood inspiration for the rest, it is a good day for us to thank the Lord … as we seek to continue to faithfully govern, sanctify and teach, doing so by dying to ourselves for the sake of others.”
“Being a priest for 50 years requires constant adapting to various times and needs of the people you serve,” Msgr. Sebaugh said. “There has always been the need of teaching God’s word and sanctifying through the sacraments.”
Fifty years ago, this was accomplished by priests and nuns; there were no permanent deacons and lay extraordinary ministers, he said. The pastor had one or more associates and a team of religious sisters taught in parochial schools.

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