Congratulations on the 60th Anniversary of your Priestly Ordination, Holy Father!

Pope celebrates with Metropolitan Archbishops receiving the Pallium

The most important moment of his life, says the Pope, was the day of his priestly ordination 60 years ago on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. This magnificent anniversary he will celebrate with the Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom he will confer the Pallium as a sign of their obedience to and special relationship with the Holy Father, and with the thousands of Catholic Faithful from around the world have descended upon Rome and Vatican City to accompany their Metropolitan Archbishops and witness this special event in their lives and in the life of their respective archdioceses – including our own.

The Holy Father tells of the joy he felt the day of his priestly ordination:

“We were more than forty candidates, who, at the solemn call on that radiant summer day, which I remember as the high point of my life, responded “Adsum”, Here I am. We should not be superstitious; but, at that moment when the elderly archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird—perhaps a lark—flew up from the high altar in the cathedral and trilled a little joyful song. And I could not but see in this a reassurance from on high, as if I heard the words “This is good, you are on the right way.” There then followed four summer weeks that were like an unending feast. On the day of our first Holy Mass, our parish church of Saint Oswald gleamed in all its splendor, and the joy that almost palpably filled the whole place drew everyone there into the most living mode of “active participation” in the sacred event, but this did not require any external busyness. We were invited to bring the first blessing into people’s homes, and everywhere we were received even by total strangers with a warmth and affection I had not thought possible until that day. In this way I learned firsthand how earnestly people wait for a priest, how much they long for the blessing that flows from the power of the sacrament. The point was not my own or my brother’s person. What could we two young men represent all by ourselves to the many people we were now meeting? In us they saw persons who had been touched by Christ’s mission and had been empowered to bring his nearness to men. Precisely because we ourselves were not the point, a friendly human relationship could develop very quickly.” Read more at the newly launched Vatican news website:

The joy of being a priest and a servant of the servants of God will undoubtedly be felt by a number of specially appointed and anointed priests who have gathered in The Vatican this week to receive the Pallium, among them Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S. and Archbishop José H. Gomez who are Metropolitan Archbishops of the Provinces of San Antonio and Los Angeles, respectively.

Besides being a bishop and an archbishop (the Ordinary of an Archdiocese), Metropolitan Archbishops have specific duties. Besides the responsibilities and rights they receive in relation to their particular diocese, in the Latin Rite they are also responsible for the following in regards to the dioceses in their  Province (per Canon 436):

  1. To see that faith and ecclesiastical discipline are carefully observed, and to notify the Roman Pontiff if there be any abuses
  2. To conduct a canonical visitation if the Bishop of the diocese has neglected it
  3. To appoint a diocesan Administrator
  4. The Metropolitan Archbishop can celebrate the Sacraments in any parish in those dioceses as if they were his own, except for the cathedrals of those dioceses (he can if he gets permission)

Originally, a Pallium was particular to the Pope. It appears that the earliest mention of the Pallium dates back to 220AD with Tertullian’s On the Pallium (De Pallio). It appears that some time around the sixth century the Pope began to confer the Pallium on metropolitans.  The Pallium is a liturgical vestment worn during Mass.

In February, two lambs are blessed and their white wool is used to make the Pallium. The wool is then presented to the Pope and Sisters make the Pallium for the new Archbishops. The new Pallia are solemnly blessed after the Second Vespers on the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, and then kept in a special silver-gilt casket near the tomb of St. Peter until used.

The celebration of the conferral of the pallium has changed over time. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have summoned new Metropolitans to The Vatican to receive the Pallium directly from the hands of the Pope on the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul, a most important celebration of the universality of the Catholic Church, as well as of the preeminent roles of Peter as Vicar of Christ and Paul as the great Apostle to the Gentiles.

On this Solemnity, I will be praying in a very special way for the Holy Father as he celebrates this life-changing event in his life -the 60th anniversary of his ordination as a priest of the Lord-  and I will also be praying in a special way for Archbishop Gustavo and Archbishop Gomez, as well as for the other Metropolitans who are gathered for the Pallium in The Vatican.  You too can pray and follow the details of these celebrations at these sites:


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