From the Sequence of the Mass of Pentecost – come these poetic lines:
“On the faithful, who adore, and confess you every more, in your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtue’s sure reward; Give them your salvation Lord; Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.”
I’m at the first Mass of Father Kevin Kilgore at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in South Orange, N.J. Kevin was ordained to the priesthood yesterday, along with eleven men, now in the service of the Archdiocese of Newark. As a seminarian in Rome, Kevin was a great help to me with our Saint Mary’s College January class in Rome, these past many years.
As concelebrants, we priests joined Kevin in the sacristy where we vested. Just as we gathered for the procession, Kevin prayed these words from the psalms: “How can I give thanks to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?”
The church was filled with friends, family, fellow priests like me, and the parish choir – all eager to welcome this young man, now a priest, after his many years of prayer and study at Seton Hall University and the North American College, Rome.
Mostly, we prayed for him, and for his mom, who passed away from cancer two years ago. We celebrated his present and future work, and how we will be enriched because of his service in the Lord.
Kevin began his short homily with the powerful image of the Good Shepherd who leads us on the journey of life. He mentioned a trip that he had taken to Bethlehem, two-years ago. He was at a crosswalk with traffic lights, and there he waited as a flock of sheep crossed the intersection.
At the time, he took careful notice how a young shepherd forward these sheep – some, those in the front, were young, eager and feisty; older sheep were in the middle, with fleece ready for cutting; a ewe trailed in the back, possibly hurt and needing special attention.
As the shepherd moved back and forth, among his sheep, and the closer the sheep were to the shepherd, — the greater the flock’s direction, unity, purpose and safety.
So with us, the closer we are to the Lord, the Good Shepherd, the more his direction, unity, purpose and safety take over in our lives.
Kevin’s message touched me greatly — especially as the Lord launches his ministry; and for all us who are assured his years and his service will comfort the countless souls awaiting his care.
He ended with a quote from Pope John XXIII, a favorite of mine:
“Jesus, whatever you have given me to do, I intend to do it all.”
Here’s a photograph of Father Kevin Kilgore, with his friend and mentor Msgr. Robert Sheeran, of Marin Catholic.