By Jessica Easthope
Hallelujah rang out in the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn as four men took their final steps toward priesthood and a new life.
Though their faces were covered with masks, the now priests have shown their true colors. Father Peter Okajima says he’s ready for the challenge of becoming a priest during a pandemic and time of racial unrest.
“It points out that our call to the priesthood is so much more important now because there’s more hurt and division in the world and we need unity,” said Father Peter.
Father Nestor Martinez, the most junior of the group, leaves a big family back in Colombia, but he’s welcomed parishioners at Divine Mercy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn into a new family of his own and is ready to share his priesthood with them.
“This is a gift that we’re going to receive today and we’re going to share it and preach the good news to the people,” said Father Nestor.
In addition to receiving the gift of his priesthood Father Dragan Pusic got another gift at his ordination, a message to his family from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio in Croatian.
Father Dragan says as times change, God’s love is eternal.
“We see the world is changing and we are globalizing our church so we have to show this unity and become one,” said Father Dragan.
Father Gabriel Agudelo-Perdomo has waited 40 years to be ordained. He says its the encouragement he’s received along the way that allowed him to go the distance.
“There are many people who have encouraged me to reach this goal, this is very important to me and I was to thank all the people who have stayed with me through this process,“ said Father Gabriel.
With these four priests, Bishop DiMarzio has ordained 100 priests in his time as the leader of the Brooklyn Diocese. Having recently celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest, he had some solid advice to give.
“Recognizing that we have a unique vocation to proclaim the truth to the world so we don’t shy away from telling the truth,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
Their ordination is a new beginning for the priests, it’s a call they’ve waited to answer their whole lives.