Photo: Dan Valenti
David Came, the executive editor of Marian Helper magazine, and his wife, Helen, congratulate Fr. Gerald following Mass on Sunday.
Fr. Gerald's 50th
By Dan Valenti (Jul 15, 2012)
About 100 family, friends, and loved ones gathered at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 15, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill, Stockbridge, Mass., to celebrate Mass honoring the 50th anniversary of the ordination of Fr. Gerald Ornowski, MIC, a member of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.
Many of Fr. Gerald's Marian brothers attended the celebration. Father Bob Vennetti, MIC, concelebrated with Fr. Gerald.
Father Gerald took his first vows as a Marian brother on Sept. 24, 1954, followed by his perpetual vows on Sept. 24, 1957. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1962 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Service in Many Roles
Father Gerald has held many positions for the Marian Fathers. These include master of novices for 14 years, house superior of the Marian House of Studies in Washington, D.C, a member of the Marians' Provincial Council, vocation director, and chaplain for several pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Europe. He has earned certificates in marriage counseling and alcoholism counseling, served on the board of National Marriage Encounter, and served as theological consultant to the Marian International Assembly in Rome for two summers. Father Gerald has earned a bachelor's degree, master's degree, and a doctorate at Catholic University, Washington.
"It's a privilege to serve at a Mass like this to honor a half century of a man's work proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ," Fr. Bob said. "It's certainly an inspiration to my priesthood, to concelebrate at an event like this. The beautiful prayer,
'The Beautiful Hands of a Priest,' says it all." The reference was to an anonymous poem Fr. Gerald read following the Eucharistic service:
'The Beautiful Hands of a Priest'
We need them in life's early morning. We need them again at its close.
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship. We seek them when tasting life's woes.
At the altar each day we behold them, and the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness. Their dignity stands all alone.
And when we are tempted and wander
To pathways of shame and of sin,
It's the hand of a priest that will absolve us — Not once, but again and again.
And when we are taking life's partner, other hands may prepare us a feast,
but the hand that will bless and unite us is the beautiful hand of a priest.
God bless them and keep them all holy, for the Host that their fingers caress.
When can a poor sinner do better than to ask Him to guide thee and bless?
When the hour of death comes upon us, may our courage and strength be increased
by seeing raised over us in blessing the beautiful hands of a priest.
Father Ken Dos Santos, MIC, rector of the National Shrine, talked of Fr. Gerald's Golden Anniversary to the priesthood as a "gift:"
As I consider the celebration of 50 years of priesthood for our Marian brother Fr. Gerald, I cannot help but think about the word "gift." What an overwhelming gift it is to be chosen by God to be His priest, to be a servant of the Servant, Jesus Christ, who gave His life on the Cross in sacrifice for our sins. He who is love itself gave His life in order that we might have life and have it abundantly. The Catechism says, "The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ's priesthood: 'Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.'" The ministerial priest cooperates with the One High Priest, Jesus Christ, who gives us this great gift, so that with Him, we literally become channels of His mercy and grace to a broken world. I have gratitude to God for the 50 years Fr. Gerald has exercised his priesthood, and I pray that he will have many more years exercising this great gift.
Following the Eucharist and before the final blessing, two Marian seminarians read from a brief biography, "Significant Moments in the Life of Fr. Gerald Ornowski, MIC." The biography took pilgrims and attendees from Fr. Gerald's birth on Jan. 18, 1935 in Port Austin, Mich., to his present-day service as coordinator for a training program for permanent deacons and serving as a substitute priest in the Fairbanks, Alaska, area. Presently, Fr. Gerald is leading five candidates toward ordination as deacons.
After Mass, friends gathered with Fr. Gerald to enjoy lunch. Following lunch, Fr. Gerald treated people to a slide show of some of his Alaskan adventures and a tour of Eden Hill.