Friday, May 11, 2007

Camarillo priest first married man to be ordained in L.A. Archdiocese

I wanted to blog this one last article because of the photo of Fr. and Mrs. Lowe (by Lloyd Nakatani of the Camarillo Acorn) after the ordination with Cardinal Mahony behind them. We have to be able to visualize how life will be for all of us when the Church finally does away with mandatory celibacy (Yes. That's "when", not "if"!) — RG

By Ellie Hidalgo
The Camarillo Acorn
May 11, 2007

In a historic, joyful and solemn ceremony, Cardinal Roger Mahony ordained to the priesthood Father William Lowe, the first married and former Episcopalian priest to be so ordained in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, at Blessed Junipero Serra Church in Camarillo May 6.

"My friends, it is a great joy to be with you today on this very special and historic day here for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and to welcome into the presbyterate Bill Lowe," said the cardinal at the beginning of the liturgy. "We're happy to have his wife, Linda, family members and friends who have come. They are most welcome here. We're very pleased to have members of other faith traditions who are here as well."

The Sunday afternoon liturgy included scores of parishioners, Santa Barbara Region Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, 14 priests and a dozen deacons and their wives.

Lowe was accompanied by his wife, Linda, their three grown children, a soninlaw, a daughterinlaw and five grandchildren.

Also present were local Christian clergy, representatives of the Ventura County Interfaith Community and Lowe's former seminary dean from his days in the Episcopalian seminary more than 40 years ago.

Noting this unique moment of Christian celebration, Cardinal Mahony said the church welcomed Lowe's ordination "with great gratitude to almighty God, but also with great hopes and expectations, because you not only bring new things to us in your own person, family, but you also bring your own heritage of years past."

With a touch of SoCal humor, the cardinal compared the various Christian traditions as being on parallel freeway onramps.

"I know it is the fond prayer and hope of all of us in Christian communities that pretty soon all of these onramps might some day merge into one highway. We have a lot of parallel onramps at the moment that have not merged. . . . But today at least your onramp has merged with our onramp," said the cardinal.

"But we all look forward to the day when all of those onramps merge in the one uniting Christian Church throughout the world and continue to give forth testimony to the person and presence of Jesus in our lives and in our hearts. So I think your ordination today to the Catholic priesthood is a wonderful sign of that hope for the future."

Lowe, 68, served as an Episcopal priest for 27 years in Newton, Mass., before retiring and moving to Southern California with Linda, his wife of 44 years. The two were received into the Catholic Church while still living in Massachusetts.

Lowe's ordination is made possible by a pastoral provision issued by the late Pope John Paul II, which allows former Episcopalian priests to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood. Completion of the pastoral provision process took about five and a half years, during which he was ordained as a deacon last February.

Throughout the ordination ceremony a 60-person choir led the congregation in song and praise. Parishioners gave Lowe a standing ovation when he was first presented to the cardinal as a candidate for the priesthood.

Lowe then solemnly prostrated himself in front of the altar as the Litany of the Saints was sung. He received the laying on of hands by the cardinal and his fellow priests. Tears streamed down his face as he knelt in front of the cardinal.

After Linda helped Lowe put on his chasuble and stole she gave him a spontaneous kiss which was caught on microphone and reverberated throughout the church.

Parishioners, taking in the newness of the moment, chuckled and then broke into a spirited applause.

Parishioner Helen Burger called the ordination "wonderful."

"He's a family man, and he can take care of families," said Burger, 79. "I'm of an older generation, but I still like this. [Bill and Linda] are a very lovable couple."

Lowe's daughters Hilary Long and Jennifer Lowe both said their highlight was receiving Communion from their father. "It was so special knowing what this means to him," said Long, who lives in Santa Barbara.

Son Chris Lowe, who lives in Whittier, said he never dreamed in a thousand years that his father would one day become a married Catholic priest. On the other hand, he noted, "with my parents nothing is done on a small scale. Everything is done with great gusto."

Grandson Sebastian, 11, said he enjoys eating ice cream and talking with his grandfather and getting to buy prank toys with his grandmother.

As a priest, his grandfather "helps a lot of people," said Sebastian.

In the growing and vibrant community of Camarillo, Lowe was quickly pressed into service. In his first week as a Catholic priest he presided at a funeral and celebrated two weekday Masses at the parish as well as Mass at La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks.

He was planning to hear confessions on Saturday, and Sunday he is set to offer the Mass of Thanksgiving at Padre Serra at 11 a.m. Recognizing that it's Mother's Day, Lowe said he was naturally talking about his homily ideas with Linda.

Following the ordination, Linda said they've been deeply moved by the support they've received from the community. "That just thrills us that other people are just so happy that this has happened."

"We're just terribly grateful all the way around," said Lowe. When asked about the emotion he showed during his ordination, Lowe said they were "tears of joy and sheer happiness after five and a half years of this process of coming home and coming back to the priesthood."

No comments: