Bishop emphasizes service at ordination Mass
by Brian Olszewski, Catholic Virginian Editor
Photos: Mark Gormus/Catholic Diocese of Richmond
If there were any questions about what kind of man Bishop Barry C. Knestout ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Richmond, Saturday, June 5, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond, his parents provided the answers.
Thomas Bagley Lawrence Jr. and Elsie King Miller Lawrence, who were joined by 125 family members and friends, including members of his home parish, St. Bridget, Richmond, more than three dozen priests and 17 deacons for the Mass during which their only child, Thomas “Tom” Bagley Lawrence III, was ordained.
“Thomas has incredible compassion for and love of people,” his father said. “He has always a love of God and the Church. He is a very dedicated person and he will serve the Church and community well.”
His mother added, “I’m happy that he’ll be serving God. He will serve the Church well. He will do what is in the best interest of the Lord and be there for the people.”
In his homily, Bishop Knestout noted that the three Scripture readings — Numbers 11:11b-12, 14–17, 24–25; 2 Corinthians 4:1–2, 5–7; John 21:15-17 — spoke about the “call and burden of leadership as well as the distress that those called (to priesthood) may at times experience.”
“Sometimes this pastoral care and service can seem overwhelming,” he said. “Without a grounding in prayer and closeness to the sacraments, which is in fact closeness to Christ, we can be overwhelmed by our responsibilities and, possibly, begin to carry some resentment and bitterness, which like any corrosive element, weakens the generous love to which we are called.”
Bishop Knestout noted that God doesn’t abandon anyone.
“When we are struggling or in need, he comes to our aide, he refreshes us with his Holy Spirit and renews us, with a deep sense of joy, and the knowledge that we are participating in his sacrifice and in his salvific mission to redeem the world,” he said.
The bishop said that while those who priests serve may not always express appreciation immediately, it is not unusual to hear years later how their words and deeds made a difference.
“It is in those moments we realize that our priestly life and service is never only about what we say, or do, “Bishop Knestout said. “It is about what Christ says and does, and what God calls from us as his people.”
Speaking directly to Father Lawrence, the bishop instructed “carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Knestout concluded, “Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”
Father Lawrence’s first assignment as a priest will be as parochial vicar at St. Joseph, Hampton, St. Mary Star of the Sea Fort Monroe, and St. Vincent de Paul, Newport News.