This past Saturday, Bishop John Taylor ordained me and four others to the Sacred Order of Priests in the courtyard of the Church of Our Saviour. It was a beautiful service thanks to the efforts of many, including Father Jeff, Gabe, and Hannah. While it was disappointing to not have the traditional huge production at St John’s Cathedral, what a blessing it was to have it here in this special place.
Seminarians work long and hard for many years toward this goal, and then when it comes it seems like a blink of the eye. I have to make an effort to remember the hours upon hours in classes like Ethics, Systematic Theology, and History of Christianity, yet while I was there, I was so busy absorbing information it was as though nothing else in the world existed. Now there are no more boxes to check, no more requirements to fulfill. All that hard work has delivered me to my destination, ordination to the Sacred Order of Priests.
It is an honor that is both humbling and thrilling to enter into the apostolic succession. It is awe-inspiring to participate in the holy sacrament of Eucharist where we reenact Christ’s words of blessing and sharing himself with us in the pascal mystery. It is as though priests are conduits of God’s Spirit of Love for the human family, inviting everyone to receive and become the body of Christ. It was truly a moment I will never forget, celebrating the Holy Eucharist at the altar of the Church of Our Saviour this past Sunday. I felt a oneness which I cannot find words to express.
I am immensely grateful for the support and love I have received and continue to receive here at Church of Our Saviour. Over the last ten years you have been the wind beneath my wings. I am especially grateful to the Reverend Michael Battle for initially bringing the Community of Divine Love here, to Father Gary Bradley who first offered the pulpit to me many years ago and always believed in me, to the Reverend Bob Honeychurch who taught me so much both in his classes and in his leadership, and now to Father Jeff Thornberg who has shepherded me through my exams and ordinations. How fortunate and blessed I am to enjoy such kind encouragement.
As many of you know, I have been conducting church services in the Los Angeles County jails for over twelve years. We were granted permission by Bishop Bruno years ago to conduct Deacon masses with pre-consecrated bread. You may have seen Sharon Crandall, Brother Dennis, or me carrying out the blessed sacrament at the end of Sunday services, to share with our incarcerated community. I long for the day when we will once again be conducting church services behind bars.
It is the greatest achievement of my life to be invited into the priesthood by God and to offer my life in service to God’s holy people. Now a new chapter begins on my journey with God and with community. I will do my best to listen with the ear of my heart for God’s guidance.
Again, thank you all for your kindness and encouragement.
The Reverend Greta Ronningen, CDL