WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Fr. Warren Schmidt prays the Eucharistic Prayer at his ordination Mass May 10.
Warren Roger Schmidt, who grew up in Sherwood Park, has been ordained a Basilian priest.
Schmidt was ordained May 10 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park.
"This was the parish I grew up in since I was 12 years old. I also belong to a religious order (the Basilians) and not to the diocese so I asked to be ordained in my home parish, the parish which my parents and family are still active in," said Schmidt.
Early on, he decided he wanted to belong to a religious order, rather than a diocese. His great aunt is a Holy Cross sister, and at first he considered joining the Holy Cross order. Then he met some Basilians, and they treated him graciously.
"I studied philosophy at St. Joseph's College, and there I met the Basilians. I thought these were neat priests and I could be one of them," he said.
"There wasn't a 'Eureka!' moment where I decided to definitely become a priest. If I said that I knew in high school I was going to be a priest someday, I'd be lying. But I'd given it some thought," he said.
"My aunt said that every Catholic boy should consider the priesthood, and at first I didn't think much of it."
Since September 2013, Schmidt has been serving as a deacon in Irondequoit in upstate New York.
He will continue serving there at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, the largest parish in the Diocese of Rochester, in his new role as a priest.
During the rite of ordination, Father George Smith, superior general of the Basilian Fathers, presented Schmidt to Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller, another Basilian, who presided over the ordination.
Smith asked that Schmidt be ordained for service as a priest, and testified that he has been found worthy.
Miller expressed gratitude to Schmidt's family for supporting him on his journey to the priesthood.
"This call never would have borne fruit had it not been for the good soil of family life and the experience with the Basilian Fathers who nourished him. A man never goes alone to the altar."
The congregation stood as Miller invited the people to pray. Schmidt prostrated himself on the floor while the Litany of the Saints was sung.
Other rituals in the ordination included the laying on of hands by the many Basilian priests, a prayer of consecration, investiture with the stole and chasuble, anointing of his hands, presentation of the gifts and the kiss of peace.
"The anointing of his hands – although we put only a little oil on them – is really meant to spill over to others, to the flock that is now in his charge," said Miller.
"He is a shepherd of God's people, whatever that group is. The pope uses a wonderful expression: Come to know the smell of your sheep."
Pope Francis' expression served as advice for Schmidt, to come to know his people, so he will recognize that he's a good priest by the way his people are anointed, how they share in what he has received.
"The secret of making preaching convincing is for a priest to be passionate for Jesus. What assures his fruitfulness is being faithful to his Lord who says insistently, 'Abide in me and I in you.' The priest, as Pope Francis says, adores Jesus Christ," said Miller.
A good priest is someone who will seek Jesus, and make him the centre of his life. That is why a priest must pray, he said.
Miller said prayer is not something a priest does routinely before doing ministerial responsibilities or at the end of a long, exhausting day. On the contrary, spending time in God's presence in prayer is a pastoral priority, at the heart of being a priest.
"That's what is asked of you as a priest, to speak to others of your friendship with Jesus, and to draw them into the abundant life that he alone can offer," said Miller.
It's not enough to preach to bright-eyed seminarians or a faith-filled congregation. Opening the door to them is not enough, advised Miller. Rather, he urged Schmidt to go out and seek those on the spiritual margins of the world. He advised Schmidt to preach to those who are "spiritually wounded."
He concluded his homily with guidance for Schmidt: "Carry out your priesthood as a pastoral father. You will be called Father, Warren, because you are called to give life to others, with the joyful love of the Lord for his people who will be committed to your care. Have a priestly heart, Warren."