SAN JUAN— Three men entered the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine here as transitional deacons; they left as priests.
The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville held an ordination for three priests Saturday, its first in two years.
Joe Luis Hernandez, 27, of Mission, Pedro Hernandez, 29, of Harlingen, and Robert Moreno, Jr., 29, of Weslaco completed their studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston before completing their rites to become priests this weekend.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores led the Solemn Mass with Ordination to the Presbyterate with over 40 priests in attendance, including Raymundo Peña, and friends and family members of the three new priests.
“First of all, I want to thank Robert, Joe Luis and Pedro for being here — for receiving that very important sound in your ears by which you were called, and to which you responded, ‘present,’” Flores said during the homily, addressing the three men as they sat with their families.
“Thank your families and your friends, and all those who’ve assisted you through these years to help you get to this point where you could be here; 90% of life is being there, where God wants you.”
The priestly ordination mass lasted about two hours and consisted of six different rites including the Promise of Obedience, the Litany of Supplication, the Laying on of Hands, Investure with Stole and Chasuble, the Anointing of Hands and Communion.
Caleb De La Rosa, 28, of Lyford, attended the ordination. He is currently a seminarian with three years of theology formation. He anticipates his own ordination into priesthood in a year or so.
“The local church in Brownsville received three news priests to be able to administer the sacraments, especially the eucharist and the reconciliation for the people of God here,” De La Rosa said. “It’s a beautiful occasion in liturgy that the Bishop now gives his succession to these men to be able to serve in the place of Christ for us.”
The Diocese of Brownsville is made up of over 1 million Catholics, 71 churches and 44 mission churches. With the three newly ordained, the current number of priests in the diocese is 100.
De La Rosa explained that the church is in need of more new priests.
“It’s very dire. It’s something that we certainly need to be praying for and be active in, in encouraging young men to consider the vocation,” De La Rosa said. “Where we’re at now, we have less priests being able to serve the many parishes and missions that we have here.”
“In an ideal world we would have two priests at every parish, and currently that isn’t happening.”
At the end of the ordination, Bishop Flores announced each of the new priests’ assignments.
Joe Luis Hernandez was assigned to Holy Spirit Catholic Church in McAllen, Robert Moreno was assigned to Lord of Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Brownsville, and Pedro Hernandez was assigned to San Martin De Porres Catholic Church in Weslaco.
“The emotions that I feel right now are definitely a virtuous joy,” Pedro said after his ordination. “I’m now able to say that my purpose in life is to be a priest and to get other people to heaven. My joy is stemming from that, the fact that I can help others.”
All three priests will be vicars at their new assignments. Pedro said that he looks forward to continuing to grow with the church and fulfill his priestly duties.
“Whatever the bishop says,” he said. “That’s the priesthood life — whatever the bishop says.”