It's priestly ordination day today here in the Diocese of Arlington, and I'm encouraged yet again by the extraordinary priestly life evident here in the diocese. In other dioceses' ordinations that I've attended, the overall impression is of an aging priesthood. In Arlington the impression is the exact opposite. The priesthood is young and strong and thoroughly dedicated.
Just as an eyeball estimate, the average age is somewhere in the 40s, decades below the national average. What is the secret?
I feel that our priests are above all prayerful. But there is also something special about the way they carry their priestly identity. It's not prideful or arrogant or "clerical" in the sense that people probably rightly find offensive, but, and this is key, they are not embarrassed. They don't hesitate to tell people the difference between right and wrong. They are comfortable in the liturgy, careful and not rushed.
Six priests and seven transitional deacons were ordained this spring. I had met a couple of the new priests in Rome, at the coffee bar at the Angelicum, and they were great, polite guys. And now, today, forever, they are priests. And as success in a presbyterate tends to lead to further success down the road, the future looks bright indeed.