SCRANTON – As he stood in the first pew of the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Joseph Boris, Sr., fought back tears as his son, Michael, gave him his first blessing just moments after his ordination to the priesthood.

“It meant so much. It was just an overwhelming feeling,” Joseph Boris said.
Five years after entering Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Michael J. Boris was ordained a priest on Saturday, June 24, 2023, before hundreds of family, friends, fellow parishioners and clergy.

During the Rite of Ordination, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, lays his hands upon the head of Michael J. Boris. Following the Bishop, all of the priests present also laid hands on the Dallas native.

“I loved seeing friends and family, some friends which I haven’t seen in a very long time, and most especially brother seminarians, and now brother priests, who have, in various ways, been part of my journey and have helped me try to surrender to Christ for this moment,” Father Boris said shortly after the Ordination Mass ended.

During the Ordination Rite, Boris prostrated himself before the Cathedral altar as the congregation chanted the Litany of the Saints. The Rite also included the Laying on of Hands, Anointing of Hands and the Fraternal Kiss — ancient rituals that signify his incorporation into the presbyterate.

Boris said the Laying on of Hands was particularly moving.

“I was moved and trying to reflect when the Bishop and then the other priests came and were laying their hands on my head. I was trying to picture how each and every one of them is Christ laying his hands on my head and trying to soothe my anxieties and heart, ultimately saying, ‘I’ve called you to this and I will be with you always,’” the newly ordained priest said.

Boris, 27, is the son of Joseph and Susan Boris. The Dallas native is a graduate of Holy Redeemer High School and King’s College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Philosophy. Boris entered Saint Mary’s Seminary in the fall of 2018. In 2019, he served a summer assignment in the parish communities of Holy Cross Parish, Olyphant, and Blessed Sacrament Parish, Throop. Boris also served a pastoral year (2020-2021) in the parish communities of Saint Rose of Lima Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, both in Carbondale.

“Two of the greatest things I’ve been thinking about recently were looking out at the crowd both at Adoration last night and here today and seeing all the people who have been part of my journey and their Christian witness and how they’ve helped me discern in various ways,” Father Boris added. “Everybody from my parishes, schools, King’s College, seminary at Saint Mary’s in Baltimore. They have all been spectacular and I’m very grateful.”

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist of the Ordination Mass.

Bishop Bambera began his homily by thanking Boris for saying “yes” to the Lord’s Call to serve the church.

“Your consent to God’s will, that has brought you to this day in your life and the life of this local church, affirms that the power of God continues to move among us and affect God’s plan for salvation,” the bishop said.

The Ordination Mass was held on the Solemnity of Saint John the Baptist and provided context, as Bishop Bambera noted, for a person’s response to the call of the Lord.

“John was the bridge between the Old and New Testaments, the prophet whose entire purpose in life was to point the way to Christ,” Bishop Bambera explained. “He understood and accepted God’s will for himself and he embraced it with humility and resolve.”

Being a priest demands the same response and more.

“While very much aware of our human weakness and frailty, God will use you, even with your imperfections to speak on His behalf and serve in His name for the sake of His people,” Bishop Bambera added.

As he ended his homily, the Bishop told Boris to always trust in the grace of God, be faithful to the teachings of the church and to remember he is appointed to serve on behalf of the Christian faithful but will always be in need of God’s presence, life and saving grace.

“God’s people are looking for meaning, purpose and peace in their lives. Today, here in this Cathedral and beyond, they will celebrate your response to the Lord’s call.

They will encourage you and embrace you with pride,” Bishop Bambera said.

“Tomorrow, they will look to you for answers to their questions and they will look to you to find Jesus in your words of forgiveness, in your service to the poor and the simplicity of your life and in the depth of your love.”

Throughout the Ordination Mass, Joseph Boris was filled with pride for his son.

“I just wish my mom and dad could be here and Sue’s mom and dad. This is something my mom prayed for a long time,” the new priest’s father said. “I have seven brothers and sisters and I think she was disappointed when none of us went into the priesthood. She was thrilled. She lived until a couple years ago and got to see Michael at the seminary. She was so proud of that.”

Over the last five years, Father Boris’ father said his son has grown in many ways.

“He is a totally different person. We know him as the goofball kid growing up, having fun, playing basketball,” his dad said. “He has really blossomed into somebody that I know will do great things. He will be a great priest.”

Father Boris’ first priestly appointment is historic. He has been appointed as Parochial Vicar at both Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, and Saint Gregory Parish, Clarks Green. While the two neighboring parishes are currently independent, they will be working towards coming together in a linkage next year, and being appointed to both parishes now will help towards that goal.

“I am excited. I’ve never been up there so I really am going in with a clean slate,” Father Boris said. “It feels good to have a fresh start, go to a place where I can serve God’s people and try to discern God’s voice every day.”

ORLANDO, Fla. (OSV News) – Meeting in Orlando for their spring assembly, the U.S. bishops moved ahead on some efforts to advance the church’s mission in the U.S., including new pastoral initiatives aimed at activating Catholics as missionary disciples. The gathering’s June 15-16 plenary sessions proved relatively smooth, but featured moments of vigorous discussion at a few points, particularly around the formation of priests.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services gave his first address as U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president presiding over the bishops’ plenary assembly. He covered a variety of issues of concern to Catholics, such as the need for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform and for an end to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., and other prelates listen to a speaker June 16, 2023, during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring plenary assembly in Orlando, Fla. (OSV News photo/Bob Roller)

“We cannot fail to see the face of Christ in all of those who need our assistance, especially the poor and the vulnerable,” he said.

The papal nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, made his case to the U.S. bishops June 15 that synodality, oriented to Jesus Christ as their “true north,” unleashes missionary activity.

“The purpose of walking this synodal path is to make our evangelization more effective in the context of the precise challenges that we face today,” Archbishop Pierre said in his address at the U.S. bishops’ spring plenary assembly in Orlando.

The archbishop also singled out Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell of Los Angeles, who was shot to death earlier this year, as “a model of synodal service, combined with Eucharistic charity.”

The U.S. Catholic bishops gathered voiced their approval for the advancement of a cause to canonize five missionary priests from Brittany, France, known as the “Shreveport martyrs.”

“They demonstrated heroic charity during the third worst pandemic in U.S. history,” said Bishop Francis I. Malone of Shreveport, noting they were all young men who voluntarily sacrificed their own lives to journey with the dying and bring the Eucharist to the faithful.

In their message to Pope Francis, the bishops also strongly condemned an execution that the state of Florida carried out June 15 in the evening following their meeting.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, updated the bishops on the progress of the 2023-2024 global Synod on Synodality. Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, presented on the National Eucharistic Revival, and outlined how the “small group initiative” in the parish year could help deepen people’s relationship to Christ in the Eucharist.

“We all know how much our church needs to move from maintenance to mission … this is really the heart of what we’re attempting to do,” he said.

Most votes taking place had near unanimous approval, such as the agenda items related to retranslating the Liturgy of the Hours into English, including having the future edition include some prayer texts in Latin.

The bishops approved the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Latino Ministry with 167 in favor and 2 against and 2 abstentions. The 62-page plan seeks to respond to the needs of about 30 million Hispanic/Latino Catholics in the U.S. and strengthen Hispanic/Latino ministries at the national, local and parish level.

Ahead of the vote, Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose, California, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, told OSV News there was a great need to “get moving so that (the new pastoral plan) can be implemented in our dioceses and parishes.”

A day before the vote took place, Detroit Auxiliary Bishop J. Arturo Cepeda, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, called the plan a sign of the times that recognizes Hispanic/Latino Catholics — who account for more than 40% of U.S. Catholics — as “missionaries among us” that can reinvigorate the life of the church.

The most contentious discussion took place regarding the proposed second edition of the “Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests.” Some bishops took to the floor to object they had not had time to read the document, or that it was so lengthy priests would likely not read it and dismiss its contents.

Other bishops expressed concern that the discussion on “spiritual fatherhood” needed to be fleshed out, expressing concern that otherwise it could fuel the “narcissistic tendencies” and “hubris” of some priests.

Bishop Steven R. Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyoming, said he appreciated the document’s beautiful description of the Christian relationship to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “What I find lacking is that communal relationship to the Body of Christ … that puts us in solidarity with one another as brother and sister,” he said.

However, other bishops pushed back against delaying the document, noting the hard work that went into developing it, and that the document was meant to be a guide adapted to the realities of local churches.

Bishop Juan Miguel Betancourt, ordained as a priest for the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary, who is an auxiliary for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, said the term “spiritual fatherhood” is “actually a term that is more familiar and clear for those who are younger in the priesthood.”

Ultimately, the bishops approved the formation document with 144 voting in favor, 24 against, and 8 abstentions.

The discussion and vote on priorities for the 2025-28 USCCB strategic plan were put on hold so that the bishops could reflect upon and, presumably, include some of the discussion from the synod conversations.

In a voice vote, the bishops approved beginning the process of consultation and revision of ethical directives for Catholic health care facilities to guide them in caring for people suffering from gender dysphoria and who identify as transgender.

Bishop Flores said potential changes would be “limited and very focused” in nature, and involve extensive consultation. He praised the calls from bishops on the floor for a “pastorally sensitive” approach to the complex topic.

The U.S. bishops also voiced approval for the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth to move ahead on drafting a new pastoral statement for persons with disabilities.

“We do believe a new statement is needed to address disability concerns in the 21st century,” Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, the committee’s chair, told the bishops June 16. The intended statement aims to emphasize the giftedness of persons with disabilities, eliminate outdated forms of referring to persons with disabilities, and would be inclusive of persons who have mental illnesses.

During the discussion, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston joined Bishop John T. Folda of Fargo, North Dakota, in noting the importance of Catholics being allied with the disability community against assisted suicide, and the cardinal asked for more attention to support parents of children with autism.

The bishops also heard an update on the upcoming World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, and were encouraged to have their own stateside events for youth and young adults “to form them as missionary disciples.”

Finally, just before the bishops concluded their assembly, Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, Michigan, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, discussed The Catholic Project’s 2022 study of 10,000 Catholic religious and diocesan priests that found most priests distrust their bishops with only 24% saying they had confidence in bishops in general.

Bishop Boyea encouraged the bishops to help priests “feel kinship and fraternity with us” through better personal communication, such as recognizing important moments in their lives, and better lines of communicating information to them.

“This is not the completion, but a beginning, to heal our relationship,” he said of the report.

At the conclusion of their assembly, recognizing it was the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the bishops prayed together the Litany of the Sacred Heart, invoking Jesus’ heart repeatedly to “have mercy on us.”

SCRANTON – Just minutes before his Ordination Mass, William A. Asinari was so overwhelmed with gratitude he started to cry.

“It’s inexplicable. I was sitting up in the chapel and I was just in tears thanking God for the blessing of service,” Deacon Asinari said.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, lays his hands on the head of William A. Asinari during the Rite of Ordination of Deacons on May 27, 2023, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. (Photo/Mike Melisky)

Less than an hour later, the 24 year old became a transitional deacon through the Rite of Ordination to the Diaconate, which includes the presentation of the candidate, election by the bishop, promise of the elect, litany of supplication and laying on of hands.

“I think one of the most beautiful moments was just hearing from the Church, we have found this man to be worthy,” Deacon Asinari explained. “I think every seminarian, to some degree, goes through the struggle that God is giving me this gift and I don’t deserve this. It is immensely beautiful and it’s beyond what I could ever deserve. You fight that feeling of unworthiness and when you finally get there in that moment and hear it, it hits home!”

Asinari, a native of Honesdale, is the son of Robert and Cathleen Asinari and is a parishioner of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Honesdale. Several friends and fellow parishioners from Wayne County made the trip to the Cathedral for the Ordination Mass.

“These are the people that have seen me since I was one or two (years old). I remember them saying, ‘Have you thought about the priesthood’ or ‘You look like you’d make a good priest,’” Deacon Asinari added. “To have them sitting there as I’m ordained a deacon was beautiful.”

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as ordaining prelate and principal celebrant for the Ordination Mass.

“What a blessing this day is for Bill and for his family, our Diocese and particularly for all those who have helped him to arrive at this faith-filled moment,” Bishop Bambera said during his homily.

Bishop Bambera reminded Asinari that service to the People of God must lie at the heart of his vocation.

“For as meaningful and significant as this moment may be for you personally, the ministry that you will embrace is not yours alone,” Bishop Bambera continued. “It comes from – and is rooted in the life of the Lord Jesus – who came to save us from sin and the brokenness of our world.”

Deacon Asinari will serve for the next year as a transitional deacon, the ordination serving as the last major step before ordination to the priesthood, which typically occurs a year later after additional pastoral, liturgical and educational preparation.

As a deacon, he will assist the bishop and his priests in ministries of the Word, Liturgy and Charity. This includes proclaiming the Gospel, leading intercessions, preaching, preparing the altar, celebrating baptisms, leading the faithful in prayer, distributing holy communion, witnessing marriages and conducting wake and funeral services. Deacons also identify the needs of poor and underserved, and shepherd the Church’s resources to meet those needs.

“I think I’m most looking forward to baptisms,” Deacon Asinari said. “I know over my summer assignment there are a couple scheduled. There is just something so beautiful about getting a family together and by my hands, blessing the water and baptizing a child. It is overwhelming.”

This summer, Asinari will be serving the Saint Rose of Lima and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parishes in the city of Carbondale.

“While you have been given tremendous gifts and talents, we pray that you will always rely upon the grace of God to fill up whatever may be lacking in you to carry out fully the ministry entrusted to you this day,” Bishop Bambera stated as he finished his homily.