I will be away from the parish this Sunday, but for a very important reason. This Sunday, December 11th, 2016, our former Theologian-In-Residence, Joseph Wolyniak, will be ordained to the sacred order of the priesthood, at the Princeton University Chapel.
For over two years, Joe served at Ascension as our Theologian-In-Residence, while his wife, the Rev'd. Elizabeth Costello served as Curate at St. Johns Cathedral, Denver. During his time here, Joe forged many friendships. He served with me in the liturgy on Sunday mornings. He preached. He taught. He engaged with parishioners on a pastoral basis in times of need and in times of great joy. It would be an understatement to say that Joe was a "presence" here at Ascension. He brought a ray of light, a good dose of intellect, and an unflinching sense of humor to everyone he encountered here. He also brought with him the most essential traits of a priest in the church: A life of prayer, and a profound faith in Jesus, and his mother, Mary. Joe enriched the life of Ascension in ways that we still feel today. And, he is one of my dearest friends.
In return, Ascension gave him a place to learn what being a priest is like. We offered him a place to discern what life in a parish looks like...its complexities, its pleasures, its agonies, its joy. His bishop, and his diocese took note of this. And partly because of his service at Ascension, Joe was approved for ordination. We here at Ascension played an essential role in sending Joe forward to be ordained, and to serve the world as a priest in the Church of God.
I will vest and participate in the liturgy for the ordination of Joseph Wolyniak to the Priesthood. I will join with fellow priests from around the Church and lay my hands upon him as the Bishop invokes the Holy Spirit to make him a priest. And I will be an ambassador from Ascension, for all of us who hold him and Liz in prayer this weekend. God is doing a great thing in Joe. Alleluia. And thanks be to God.
I leave you with this prayer, which is read at all ordinations. Please take a moment to offer it on behalf of Joe, as he is ordained to be who he already is:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were being cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Yours Faithfully in the Coming Lord Christ,