PROVIDENCE — On Saturday, June 4, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, D.D., ordained Deacon Mark Gabriel Gadoury to the priesthood at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.
The Rite of Ordination was an emotionally moving event. The sublime and at times resounding singing was performed by the Gregorian Concert Choir, led by Monsignor Anthony Mancini, the cathedral’s rector and musical director, and was accompanied by a powerful orchestra and music played by Philip Farone, the cathedral organist.
Bishop Tobin celebrated Mass together with priests from throughout the diocese, as well as hundreds of the lay faithful and religious.
In attendance were Father Gadoury’s close family, including his mother Cheryll, as well as his two elder sisters, his brothers-in-law, and their children. Father Gadoury’s father, Paul Gadoury, passed away in 2014 at the age of 66.
“It’s a very emotional day, but a very happy day,” said Cheryll Gadoury, mother of the newly ordained priest.
“He’s been waiting for this for a long time. We’re all excited for him.”
Father Gadoury’s journey to ordination was in many respects highly influenced by his family background.
“We brought our children up very religiously, right from the start,” Cheryll Gadoury said. “As babies we would take them to church. … And so it was easy to bring religion into daily life.”
The Mass was, in many ways, a family affair. The first two readings were read by Father Gadoury’s married elder sisters, Rebecca O’Malley and Rachel Hursthouse. After the Liturgy of the Word, the Rite of Ordination began with Father Christopher J. Murphy, director of pre-ordination formation for the diocese, presenting the candidate to the bishop.
The sense of excitement expressed earlier by the Gadoury family was also expressed in the homily delivered by Bishop Tobin.
“My dear brothers and sisters, it is my great joy, my privilege, to welcome you to our beautiful Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on this very blessed and happy day,” the bishop began.
After greeting those in attendance, Bishop Tobin extended very sincere congratulations, prayers and blessings to soon-to-be Father Gadoury on the wonderful occasion.
“We, all of us, are proud of you, and very grateful to you for your willingness to respond to God’s call, God’s voice, with a very generous heart,” the bishop said.
“We pray today that you always be a faithful and joyful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Tobin said that Father Gadoury’s future ministry as a priest can be contextualized in two main ways.
The first, he noted, was the fact that Father Gadoury’s ordination corresponds with the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Providence. He is the only priest ordained for the diocese during the 150th anniversary celebration.
The history of the diocese, Bishop Tobin stated, can serve as an example to be followed, noting that “from the very first days of this diocesan church, there have been faithful and holy priests, sometimes heroic priests, who have worked hard and have generously served the spiritual needs of God’s people. … Today, dear brother Mark, you are joining the ranks of the priests who served in this diocese for 150 years.”
The second major context of the priesthood, Bishop Tobin continued, is what we can learn through the events mentioned in the biblical account of the first Pentecost.
It was the Holy Spirit who gave the Apostles the moral and spiritual strength to preach the Gospel. The bishop quoted from Pope St. Paul VI, who stated that the Church needs to be in a “perpetual Pentecost.”
After expressing his resolve in the Promise of the Elect to carry out the office of the priesthood in accord with the mind of Christ and of the Church, under the direction of the bishop, Gadoury knelt and placed his hands between those of the bishop, promising respect and obedience to him and his successors.
The Litany of Supplication followed, in which Gadoury prostrated himself in prayer to remember that service to God and his holy people requires genuine humility in the example of Christ.
Then, in the most ancient part of the Rite, the Bishop laid hands upon Gadoury, followed by the Prayer of Ordination, ordaining him a priest forever.
Father Gadoury was then vested with a priestly stole and chasuble by Father Norman Bourdon, his longtime pastor and mentor at St. Joan of Arc Church, Cumberland.
After the ceremony, the newly ordained, flushed with emotion, prepared to offer blessings on a long line of family, priests, friends and seminarians from both Our Lady of Providence Seminary and St. John Seminary, in Brighton, Massachusetts, who gathered before the altar.
“I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” Father Gadoury told Rhode Island Catholic at that moment, reflecting on what the day meant for him.
“I’m so thankful to everyone, my family, my friends, everyone who came, Bishop Tobin especially and all the priests. I felt moments of joy and humility and that God has been really good.”
Father Gadoury said he was grateful for everyone who formed him through the seminary to be a priest.
Adam Habershaw, a seminarian at Our Lady of Providence Seminary, said he always enjoys the beauty of ordination Masses.
“They’re meant to be beautiful [since] we’re welcoming in a priest or a deacon to minister at the altar and preach God’s Word.”
Yet, Habershaw noted that the day’s events take on an even more personal tone since Father Gadoury had previously served for a year as a deacon at his home parish of St. Paul’s.
“It was personal in the way that you’re looking at one of your friends committing his entire life to God, and to not only see it as one of your friends doing it, but also as a seminarian to be able to think, ‘In a few years, you’ll be the one,’” Habershaw said.
Bishop Tobin has assigned Father Gadoury to serve as assistant pastor at St. Luke’s and Holy Angels churches in Barrington.