Sunday, May 17, 2015

Journey to Jerusalem and Beyond

Fr. Mauricio Fernandez presenting his maniturgia to his mother, Nilda.  Church tradition says that when a priest is ordained, he wipes the Chrism oil with  which the Archbishop anoints his hands on a towel (maniturgia)  and then presents it to his mother.  When she dies, she is buried with the maniturgia and presents it to Jesus to say "I gave you a priest."  She is then given a higher place in heaven because of her sacrifice. (photo credit:  Susie Rangel)

On Saturday, May 16th, Fr. Mauricio Fernandez and Fr. Dennis Saran were ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and on Sunday, May 17th, my family and I were blessed to attend Fr. Mauricio's first Mass at St. Bruno's Church in Dousman.

Fr. Mauricio is a missionary to Milwaukee from Venezuela.  His sister and his mother, Nilda,  came to Milwaukee to be with him for his ordination and first Mass.  I'm always deeply moved during ordinations to watch the mothers of the new priests present the gifts to Archbishop Listecki and to their sons during the Mass, and the fact that Fr. Mauricio's mother traveled such a long distance to be with him, and would rarely have opportunities to see him in the future, was particularly moving.  She has given up so much in giving her son to the Church!  My eyes fill with tears at the thought of her love and her sacrifice.

At Fr. Mauricio's  Mass of thanksgiving, the church was beautifully decorated with a large portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe behind the altar. The music was festive and peppered with Spanish tempos and flavor.  It was truly joyful and beautiful and obvious that a lot of work and planning went into the Mass!

During the homily, Fr. Javier Bustos who is also from Venezuela and is a mentor to Fr. Mauricio, spoke about how there was nobody else in the church who has had the same experiences as Nilda and said that she was the only one who knew Fr. Mauricio's entire life history. He said that all of Fr. Mauricio's life up to this point was preparing him for this moment.

In reflecting upon the scripture readings for the day, Fr. Javier said that after the Resurrection the apostles were all set for changes in Jerusalem, but it was not meant to be. They were witnesses of what happened in Jerusalem but now they were meant to leave Jerusalem and go to the end of the world to spread the Gospel message.  And like the apostles, Fr. Mauricio had to leave his home of Venezuela and go to the end of the go to Dousman, Wisconsin!

Fr. Bustos said that the  journey toward Jerusalem is our journey, too.  It's the journey toward the fulfillment of our own vocation, our own call.  Speaking to Fr. Mauricio, Fr. Bustos said, "Yesterday, you got to Jerusalem.   Welcome!  But surprise!  You will not stay in Jerusalem.  You are to witness what you experienced to everyone.  You aren't starting here, this is not a blank page in your life. You'll remember everything that happened in your life and share how God brought you to Jerusalem with everyone to whom you minister."

Following the Mass a festive party ensued complete with ethnic music and dancing, but, surprisingly, the food was All-American!  Fr. Ralph Gross, the pastor of St. Bruno's, explained that Fr. Mauricio asked for a simple picnic with hamburgers and hot dogs to go with the Venezuelan music.  The combination was a perfect blending of two cultures.

The two videos below show just a brief part of the celebration that followed Fr. Mauricio's first Mass. A Mexican dancing group entertained us with ethnic dances and a group of musicians and dancers sang "God is beautiful."  The group was so welcoming and they encouraged everyone who was nearby to join them and Fr. Mauricio in the dance, and they even got yours truly to participate.  It was so much fun!

To learn more about Fr. Mauricio Fernandez, please visit the Milwaukee Catholic Herald here:  Aspiring Mayor Elects to Follow God Instead.

To learn more about Fr. Dennis Saran, please visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here:  Islamic Daughters Influence Father's Journey to Priesthood.

And most importantly, please keep Fr. Mauricio and Fr. Dennis in your prayers.

Prayer of the Lay Associate of the Priesthood of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood

Lord Jesus, live in all priests and help them to truly appreciate their unique oneness with You so that they will never crave for more or less than just Yourself and Your Love forever.  

Grant Fr. Mauricio and Fr. Dennis the grace to seek for no other joy than Your Love and the privilege of bringing it to others.

Grant to me an ever-deepening reverence of Your Priesthood.  And when death ends my life here on earth, may You, the Eternal High Priest, reveal to me in the Beatific Vision the consolation everlasting of having prayed and sacrificed for your priests here on earth.  Amen.


  1. I just want to let you know that the dancing group is from Mexico

    1. Thank you! They were just wonderful! I know it was awfully warm in the gym and they had so much energy despite the warmth. I just marveled at how great they were!

  2. I just want to let you know that the dancing group is from Mexico