This past Sunday many of the newly ordained priests from our province celebrated their First Masses back in their home parishes. For Fr. Juan Pablo Palacio, celebrating his First Mass meant returning to Bridgeport, CT, and the IVE parish under the patronage of St. George. St. George’s Parish began as a Lithuanian parish on the south side of Bridgeport in the early 1900’s, and now it counts among its faithful not only those of Lithuanian ancestry, but also Colombians, Mexicans, Peruvians, and Ecuadorians.
Even more, this past Sunday was truly a Sunday of firsts for Fr. Juan Pablo. Not only did he celebrate his First Mass, but he also gave First Communion to roughly 40 children and presided over the Corpus Christi procession for the first time. By the time the Mass began the church was standing room only. Parishioners not only filled the pews, but also the side aisles and the Church’s vestibule to take part in this historic celebration for the community of St. George’s. Fr. Juan Pablo was joined by Fathers Elio Sosa and Edgar Diaz, the two IVE priests currently working at St. George’s, and Fr. Mariano Vicchi, rector of the Ven. Fulton Sheen seminary where Fr. Juan Pablo received his formation. His parents, as well as many family and friends were also on hand for the celebration.
After the Mass of Corpus Christi, the entire congregation poured out into the streets to manifest their faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Fr. Juan Pablo gave three benedictions along the route before returning to the Church for the reposition. At the end of the Eucharistic worship Fr. Juan Pablo gave a few words of thanksgiving to God for his ordination and to his parents and all those present for their support of his vocation. Finally, there was the veneration of the newly ordained’s hands—a tradition that manifests reverence for the hands that were consecrated on the day of his ordination—since they now belong to the service of God.
May Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, intercede on behalf of all the newly ordained priests and obtain for them the grace of fidelity to Christ, Priest and Victim, and the grace of final perseverance.