Bishop Olson ordains Deacons Gary Picou and Raul Martinez to priesthood

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Kathy Cribari Hamer

Fr. Gary Picou blesses Bishop Michael Olson following his ordination to the presbyterate for the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Father Gary Picou blesses Bishop Michael Olson following his ordinatio to the priesthood of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

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Fr. Raul Martinez blesses Bishop Michael Olson following his ordination to the presbyterate of the Diocese of Fort Worth

Father Gary Picou blesses Bishop Michael Olson following his ordinatio to the priesthood of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

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Two priests’ lives converged May 24 at St. Patrick Cathedral, when, from differing backgrounds and histories, they lay prostrate in front of the same altar, knelt and promised fealty to the same bishop, and received the same sacrament.

Father Gary Picou, ordained after having begun his seminary studies 20 years earlier, sat with his parents, Cathy and Gary, all of them smiling, then stepped forward to express his willingness and desire to join the presbyterate for the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Father Raul Martinez López, dabbing at his eyes occasionally sat near his mother, brother, and a cluster of cameras, handled by proud relatives who had traveled from Mexico in anticipation of the huge event.

For his part, Bishop Michael Olson, who just four months ago was consecrated to the episcopate, celebrated his first priestly ordination for the diocese since becoming its shepherd. He called them “dear sons,” smiling when he described standing in their places just 20 years earlier, on June 3, 1994. “I was slightly less nervous that day than I am today.”

Having spent the previous six years as rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, the bishop would have been able to recognize a sea of faces in the cathedral, knowing he had been instrumental in the selection, placement, and formation of many of them. In short, when this bishop celebrated the sacrament of Holy Orders, he was able to understand it from many perspectives.

Bishop Olson presided over the liturgy ex Cathedra, “from the Bishop’s chair,” and looking directly at the two ordinands, he told them. “The vow that you make this day is of the heart, and it is of the heart not only of your own, but of the entire Church. It is an act of faith, an act of hope, and an act of love.

“Always remember,” he said to them, “it is Christ who initiated this, calling you by name. And your response is itself a grace that He offers you and that you share, generously, with all of us.”

Vocations Director Father Jonathan Wallis presented the two deacons to the bishop as the assembly applauded them. That presentation, examination, and promise of obedience were the beginning steps of the Ordination Rite. As the two candidates placed their hands in the bishop’s, they promised obedience to him and his successors.

In his homily, Bishop Olson spoke of that promise, emphasizing, “…obedience is never simply procedural or administrative. Obedience doesn’t end with a particular assignment nor does it end with retirement.

“The obedience that Christ requires of his priests,” the bishop said, “is a life-giving obedience that makes known the obedience of Christ to the Father. Obedience is an act of the heart directed to the bishop, but to the bishop as he represents Christ and his Church.

“Priestly obedience is at its core an apostolic heart,” he added, “ready to be inconvenienced and available for the burden of God’s people wherever and whenever they cry out for us.”

Both men and the bishop emphasized the status of a priest as a servant of God.

The bishop instructed the men, “When as priests we receive that emergency phone call at 2:30 in the morning, remember it is Christ calling, to whom we are obedient; this form of obedience engenders a generosity that will generate even more devotion among the faithful people of God encouraging even stronger and life-giving marriages and more robust priestly and religious vocations within our local and universal Church.”

In a pre-ordination interview, Fr. Picou reflected upon that call to obedience to Christ. “When people go to a priest, they are looking for reconciliation, healing, consoling, encouragement, and direction, and it’s a really privileged position from what I’ve seen so far.

“They basically say, ‘I want you in my life,’ and our position is just to create that space where they’re welcome to walk in.”

After promising obedience, the two ordinands lay prostrate before the altar as the assembly sang the Litany of the Saints.

“I felt a strong sense of profound humility,” Fr. Picou said. “We prostrate ourselves for a reason — to humble ourselves to realize that we need the prayers of the Church. And that Litany of the Saints, it is the prayers of the whole Church, for us that are about to be ordained. We don’t do it on our own.”

Finally, the pinnacle moment of ordination arrived with the laying on of hands, first, and most importantly by the bishop, and afterward, in a gesture of fraternity, by all priests present, asking the Holy Spirit to come over the two candidates.

“Kneeling in front of the altar, the priests prayed over my head as well. Tears flowed like a spring from my eyes, because I felt so much joy. Tears that I offered to God as a gift,” recalled Fr. Martinez. “Throughout the entire ceremony my heart was beating so hard with a strength that I cannot explain. I was consumed by emotions that took over my entire body, I cried because I felt so much joy.”

Fr. Picou had a similar experience as he received the sacrament.

“It will take me months, if not years, to process this. I imagine that at each ordination I attend, I will see a fuller picture of those two moments,” he said. “I was calm, and I prepared myself to receive what the Church through our bishop had to offer. I prayed for the disposition of receptivity, that I be conformed to Christ the Priest as he chose, not as I want it to be.”

Fr. Picou entered the seminary after college, but took a break before returning to finish. “When I was in seminary the first time, my parents already bought my chalice. I didn’t know that,” he said. “So when I left the seminary and it looked like I wasn’t going back, they sent it to my great uncle’s parish in Louisiana. They requested that anytime a Mass was celebrated with that chalice, that they pray for me to go back. So for about 12 years that parish has been praying for me to return.” Fr. Picou’s great uncle, a Knight of Columbus, was present at the ordination.

Cathy and Gary Picou were supportive parents, both emotionally touched by the Ordination Liturgy, and again at their son’s first Mass. Fr. Picou presented his parents with the cloth used to wipe his hands after the bishop anointed them with oil during the ordination.

That gift, traditionally bestowed on the mother, was given to both parents this time. “Gary made up his own tradition,” his mom said. The parents said they would split it. Tradition is that when the parents die, the cloth is buried with them, to show God they are parents of a priest, and “to let them into Heaven,” Cathy Picou said.

Although Fr. Martinez’ father died when he was 16, his mother was able to witness his ordination to the priesthood.

“I am very thankful to God for my mother, Maria Esther Lopez, who was able to attend my priestly ordination,” he said. Then, reflecting upon the Motherhood of Mary, he recalled, “As I knelt in front of the altar I looked up and saw the Mother of God, who witnessed my smallness. I felt her arms wrap me with her love and whispered to my ears the same words she shared with Juan Diego: ‘No tengas miedo. No estoy yo aqui que soy tu Madre?’ which means, ‘Fear not. Am I not here who am your Mother?’

“That night before going to bed,” Fr. Martinez said, “I repeated over and over these words: ‘Raul, you are a priest. Raul, you are a priest. Raul, you are a priest….’ That’s how I went to sleep.”

See Also

Deacon Gary Picou’s vocation journey has come full circle

As a young child growing up in Houston, Deacon Gary Picou had a dream. “I wanted to be an astronaut. That was my goal,” he said. However, when the young man took the physical, he learned he was color blind. “My dream of being an astronaut kind of died,” said Dcn. Picou, soon to be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Fort Worth. But in one of many references to the mystery of God, the deacon noted the color blindness may have been one of ways God works, and a demonstration of his sense of humor and providence.

Mexico native Deacon Raul Martinez developed and fostered his vocation throughout his life

RDcn.-Raul-Preaching-BUTTON.jpgeverence and humility show in his eyes, smile, and carefully-worded homilies. Deacon Raul Martinez Lopez worries about his vocabulary and presentation, but to the assembly he delivers his thoughts clearly, even in his new, second language. Dcn. Martinez, whom Bishop Michael Olson will ordain to the priesthood at St. Patrick Cathedral 10 a.m., Saturday, May 24, assisted at Holy Family Parish’s noon Mothers’ Day Mass May 11.

Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Deshotel ordains Raul Martinez and Gary Picou to transitional diaconate

Dcns-Ordination-BUTTON.jpgA deacon’s call to teach the faith and serve the community is a vocation — a seed placed by God in the heart of a man. But the family is where that seed is nourished and cultivated. Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, offered words of praise to the parents of Raul Martinez Lopez and Gary Picou, Jr., before addressing the men he was about to ordain to the transitional diaconate Sept. 14 in St. Michael Church in Bedford.

Frs.-Gary-_-Raul-Communion-WEB.jpgTwo priests’ lives converged May 24 at St. Patrick Cathedral, when, from differing backgrounds and histories, they lay prostrate in front of the same altar, knelt and promised fealty to the same bishop, and received the same sacrament.

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