A Priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans
With Praise and Thanksgiving
Dr. and Mrs. Robert Bruce Cooper, D.D.S.
Joyfully Announce the Ordination of Their Son
ROBERT THEODORE COOPER
To The Sacred Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ
For the Service of the Church of New Orleans
Through the Imposition of Hands and
The Invocation of the Holy Spirit
The Most Reverend Alfred C. Hughes, S.T.D., D.D.
Archbishop of New Orleans
Saturday, the Second of June
In the Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand Seven
At Ten O’clock in the Morning
Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis IX, King of France
New Orleans, Louisiana
Deacon Cooper and Deacon Tran wait to be called forward by the Deacon of the Gospel.
Archbishop Alfred Hughes delivers the homily at the Ordination.
The Priesthood Ordination of Fr. Robert Cooper and Fr. John Tran took place at the Cathedral of St. Louis IX, King of France, on June 2, 2007. The Cathedral is located in the heart of the City of New Orleans, in the historic French Quarter, adjacent to Jackson Square.
The Mass began with the Entrance Procession, Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Word. After the Gospel was prolcaimed by Deacon Jesse Watley, the Candidates were Called forward to stand before the altar.
The Presentation of the Candidates followed as Fr. Patrick Williams, Rector of Notre Dame Seminary, was asked a series of questions by Archbishop Hughes to determine if Deacon cooper and Tran had completed the Church’s requirements for priestly formation and whether they had been judged worthy of the priesthood. This determination is reached by the Vocation Office, in consultation with the faculty of the seminary who are responsible for the candidates’ formation.
Next, Archbishop Hughes “elects” the candidates for orders and the people present in the assembly gave their consent by applauding. The archbishop said: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these men, our brothers, for priesthood in the presbyteral order.” In Catholic theology, the Church holds that a vocation to the priesthood is discerned within the Church. Thus, the Ordinary gives his consent and the people also give their assent for the ordination to take place.
Following the "Election," Deacon Cooper and Tran were seated and Archbishop Hughes gave his homily which addressed the entire assembly, but especially the candidates, on the role of the priest and the nature of the priestly office.
Deacon Cooper and Tran are examined by Archbishop Hughes,
Deacon Cooper gives his promise of obedience to Archbishop Hughes and his successors.
Following the homily, the Deacon Cooper and Tran came forward for the Examination. The archbishop asked a series of questions to determine if the candidates were willing to discharge faithfully the office of priesthood, to celebrate the sacred mysteries of Christ, to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, and to consecrate their lives to God in union with Christ the High Priest.
At the end of the examination, each candidate approached the archbishop individually, and putting his hands into the hands of the archbishop, promised respect and obedience to Him, as the Ordinary of the Diocese, and his successors.
Deacon Cooper and Tran lie prostrate on the sanctuary floor during the singing of the Litany of Saints.
Deacon Cooper and Tran prostrate themselves before the altar as the prayers of the Litany invoke God's saving mercy and the intercession of all the saints to send down the Holy Spirit upon them.
The chanting of the Litany of the Saints followed in which not only did those present pray for the candidates, but the saints were asked to make intercession before God for them. During the litany, the candidates lie prostrate on the floor as a gesture of their humility in undertaking the office of the priesthood.
Archbishop Huhes lays hands on Deacon Cooper.
Fr. Jason Palermo, a priest of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, lays hands on Deacon Cooper.
The candidates rose after the prayers and knelt in front of the archbishop for the Laying on of Hands. The archbishop laid his hands on each of the candidates’ heads in silence and then all the priests present in the Cathedral did the same. This action is an ancient biblical gesture beseeching God to empower the candidates by the Holy Spirit and is a sign of the authority that has passed through the ages from the Apostles.
Fr. Cooper kneels before Archbishop Hughes as he recites the Prayer of Consecration.
Bishop Dominic Carmon, Axuliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans vests Fr. Cooper in the priestly stole and chasuble.
The Prayer of Consecration was recited by Archbishop Hughes, which along with the Laying on of Hands, constitutes the essential act of the sacrament. The concluding section of the prayer states:
grant to this servant of yours
the dignity of the priesthood.
Renew within him the Spirit of holiness.
As a co-worker with the order of bishops
may he be faithful to the ministry
that he receives from you, Lord God,
and be to others a model of right conduct.
May he be faithful in working with the order of bishops,
so that the words of the Gospel may reach the ends of the earth,
and the family of nations,
made one in Christ,
may become God's one, holy people.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The newly-ordained Fr. Cooper and Fr. Tran were now assisted by a brother priest to take off the vestments of the deacon and put on the stole and chasuble, the garments worn by the priest at Mass. Each of the newly-ordained selected a vesting priest prior to the ordination to assist them.
Archbishop Hughes appoints Fr. Cooper's Hands with Sacred Chrism.
Fr. Cooper offers Archbishop Hughes the Sign of Peace as a newly-ordained priest.
After they where vested in the proper liturgical grab, Fr. Cooper and Tran return to the archbishop who anointed their palms with Sacred Chrism using the words:
The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctity the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.
Sacred Chrism is a symbol of Christ the High Priest, who has offered the one and unique sacrifice. In Roman Catholic theology, the priest sacramentally participates in this ministry of Christ. Anointing with Chrism takes place at the Baptism of infants, at Confirmation, and at the Ordination of priests and bishops.
After the anointing, the newly-ordained go to the Sacristy to wipe the Chrism from their hands. These cloths were given to their mothers at their First Mass of Thanksgiving to symbolize the gift of their sons to the service of the Church. Meanwhile, the deacon of the Eucharist prepared the paten and chalice for Mass, that were brought forward by the newly-ordained families, and both the chalice and paten were handed to the newly-ordained as the bishop said:
Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord's cross.
This symbolizes the centrality of the Holy Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass in the life of the priest.
The archbishop then greeted each of the newly-ordained with a sign of peace. All the priests present in the Cathedral returned to the altar to greet the newly-ordained as well.
Fr. Cooper offers his first priestly blessings to Archbishop Hughes and then to Bishop Morin and Bishop Carmon.
Fr. Cooper receives his first priestly assignment from Archbishop Hughes. The archbishop missions Fr. Cooper to St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church in Metairie, Louisiana.
The Mass proceeded as usual, celebrated by the archbishop and now con-celebrated by the two newly-ordained priests joined with the prebyterate of the local Church.
At the end of Mass, the archbishop and his brother bishops knelt in front of the altar and received the first blessings of the newly-ordained priests.
Fr. Cooper is pictured with Archbishop Hughes along with Deacon Jesse Watley, Deacon Harold Burke, Deacon Jose Sierra, and Deacon David Warriner.
Fr. Cooper is pictured with Archbishop Hughes and Fr. Joseph Benson, his longtime Spiritual Director and friend.
It takes the dedication of an overwhelming number of clergy and lay faithful to prepare for an ordination liturgy. Preparations begin almost six months in advance to arrange for the beautiful celebration of the Divine Litugy. From the Minsters of the Altar, to Cantors, Choir Members and Musicians; from lectors to altar servers; from Hospitality Ministers to Masters of Ceremonies, all play an integral part in preparing for such a momentous occasion in the life of the Church.
Fr. Cooper extends his priestly blessing to Deacon Jose Sierra after the Ordination Mass.
Deacon David Warriner, Vice Chancellor of the Ardiocese of New Orleans, kisses Fr. Cooper's hands after the imparting of the priestly blessing. It is customary for the individual, who has received the blessing of a newly- ordained priest, to kiss the priest's hands as a sign of reverence to the Priesthood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The practice of kissing the hands of a newly-ordained priest is a long established custom in some countries. In the liturgy, as in other aspects of human life, the gestures and position of the hands have a specific meaning or implication.
The gesture of kissing a person or object is an ancient liturgical tradition and symbolizes veneration of the said persons or things during public worship. Kissing the hand or an object as a sign of reverence is more common in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. In the ordinary form it has been reduced to the kissing of the altar and of the Gospel.
It is still common, however, outside of the liturgy as a sign of veneration toward persons such as bishops and newly-ordained priests. During ordination, a new priest’s hands are anointed with Chrism as a sign of consecration and of the change that has been effected in his soul.
The custom of kissing his hands stems from a recognition of the fundamental change that has occurred and of the particular importance of the sign of the hands in priestly ministry. After ordination the priest uses his hands to hold the Eucharistic species during the consecration, to make the sign of the cross while absolving sins, to anoint the sick and dying, and on occasion to impart the sacrament of Confirmation.
We need them in life's early morning, We need them again at its close; We feel their warm clasp of true friendship, We seek them when tasting life's woes.
At the altar each day we behold them, And the hands of a king on his throne Are not equal to them in their greatness; Their dignity stands all alone;
And when we are tempted and wander, To pathways of shame and of sin, It's the hand of a priest that will absolve us—Not once, but again and again.
And when we are taking life's partner, Other hands may prepare us a feast, But the hand that will bless and unite us-- Is the beautiful hand of a priest.
God bless them and keep them all holy, For the Host which their fingers caress; When can a poor sinner do better, Than to ask Him to guide thee and bless?
When the hour of death comes upon us, May our courage and strength be increased, By seeing raised over us in blessing-- The beautiful hands of a priest.
To live in the midst of the world,
Without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family,
Yet belonging to none;
To share all sufferings;
To penetrate all secrets;
To heal all wounds;
To go from men to God
And offer Him their Prayers;
To return from God to men
To bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for charity
And a heart of bronze for chastity;
To teach and to pardon,
Console and bless always--
What a glorious life!
And it is yours,
O Priest of Jesus Christ!