RALEIGH, N.C. — The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi here hosted the ordination of two friars on Saturday. George Corrigan and Emerson Rodriguez Delgado were ordained by Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh on a spring morning with clear blue skies.
The bishop was assisted by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, Francis DiSpigno, director of the Province’s post-novitiate formation, and Joseph Gossman, bishop of Raleigh until 2006, who is an affiliate of the Province. Serving as deacon at the May 19 ordination was Christopher Coccia. The vesting presbyters were Joseph Nangle for George who met Joe in Kenya andThomas Gallagher, director of the Province’s novitiate program, for Emerson.
George and Emerson were surrounded by close to 40 of their brothers who came from many of the Province’s parishes and ministries including Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, and from as far away as Brazil. Twenty friars from Holy Name College in Maryland traveled to Raleigh via the St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C., where they had spent the previous few days in retreat.
Mark Reamer, pastor of St. Francis, said that “it was a great experience for the parish to be able to host the ordination and to meet the friars. Many parishioners had the opportunity to have friars spend the night in their homes.”
Francis said he was impressed by the hospitality and enthusiasm of the Raleigh community.
“For parishioners to be able to witness an ordination was wonderful,” he said. “Many people commented on just how moving the ceremony was.”
Familiarity with Raleigh Parish
This is the first time that the Province’s ordination was held in Raleigh. Normally, Holy Name ordains its friars at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City. An exception was made this year primarily because construction at the 31st Street church prevented the ceremony from being held there, John said. The Raleigh parish was an especially comfortable location for one of the two new priests because he had been assigned to St. Francis Church twice during his formation process.
“George served as summer internship here in 2003,” Mark said. “He was also at our church during the 2005 to 2006 year during which he worked in the RCIA program and participated in parish staff duties such as visiting the sick and ministering at Central Prison in Raleigh.
“Having the ordination here was perfectly timed since it is a special year for our parish; St. Francis is celebrating its 25th anniversary,” he said.
In his ordination remarks, John expressed appreciation to both the current and the past bishops of Raleigh for their support of the friars’ work.
“It was a celebration of the extensive Franciscan involvement in the Raleigh area,” George added. “For most of the people, it was probably the first ordination they have ever seen, and it maybe their only one.”
The parish has served as a ministerial placement site for many frfirs during their formation process. The many ministries at the busy church allow one to try a huge variety of roles, George said.
Emerson and George conveyed their gratitude toward a variety of people who have been with them in their journeys from their families to their Franciscan life.
In a “Note of Thanks” from George and Emerson in the ordination program, they said “The call to presbyteral ordination is neither received nor is it accepted in isolation. We are forever grateful to our parents who filled the promises they made on our behalf at our baptisms and formed us in the faith of the church.
“This journey continued as we were received into religious life in the Order of Friars Minor. Here we were guided by our brothers, whose courageous and faithful witness have modeled for us what it means to witness to the Word of God and to serve God’s people.”
They said that while in their institutions of higher learning, “our professors, our ministerial supervisors, our spiritual mentors and our classmates modeled, through countless examples of faith seeing understanding, what it means to be a Church, led by the Holy Spirit, transforming creation.”
Different Paths to Priesthood
Two very different backgrounds led the new priests to their roles.
George was born in Atlanta, Ga., and grew up in Orlando, Fla. In 1974, he earned a B.S. in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and in 1981 a master’s in business administration from the University of Central Florida.
Following graduation, George served on nuclear submarines. After leaving active duty in 1982 , he served as chief information officer for a private-sector business and later joined the Franciscan Mission Service (FMS) where he served three years as a lay missionary. George was received into the novitiate in 2001 at Holy Name’s chapter of mats in Catskill, N.Y.
Emerson was born in Cajamarca, Peru, and grew up in Chachapoyas, Amazonas, Peru. He entered the seminary in 1991 as a teenager and studied at Seminary San Luis Gonzago in Jaen, Peru, and received a bachelor’s degree in 2004.
He met the friars at Santisimo Nombre de Jesus parish in Lima. Emerson’s initial formation took place in our foundation in Lima, as well as his studies in theology. He also was received into the Province’s novitiate in 2001.
Emerson was exposed to religious life and ideals at a young age through his family.
“My uncle was a priest,” said Emerson. “I feel very grateful to be ordained. I feel much joy.”
“We’re surrounded by God’s presence,” he added. “I look forward to building a bridge between the people and God.”
After the ordination ceremony, parishioners, family members, and visitors celebrated with the new priests at a lunch reception in the parish hall.
George will be relocating to Tampa, Fla., later this week for his new assignment at Sacred Heart Church there. He looks forward to the collaborative ministry of a life of servant leadership.
Emerson will be pursing a doctoral degree at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
In 2008, Holy Name Province anticipates ordaining seven friars to the priesthood, according to Francis.
— Jocelyn Thomas is Holy Name Province’s director of communications.