Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
On Saturday, June 22, 2019, Father Federico was ordained a priest by Archbishop Blair. Having been friends with Father Federico through his years of formation I was honored to be an invited guest at his reception that evening. It was quite a celebration of exuberant joy! His family even arranged for the Jersey Boys singers to be there and perform. BUT THAT WAS NOT THE HIGHLIGHT FOR ME!
The speech Father Federico’s dad gave was the highlight for me and a talking point for days after among those priests that were there. It was honest and moving. With Mr. Federico’s permission I share it with you.
His dad’s speech: “Hello everyone and good evening. It is an honor and a blessing to be a part of this extraordinary event. For those of you who don’t know, I am Anthony Joseph Federico, the Anthony Joseph Federico who was NOT ordained a priest today. People say that the apple does not fall from the tree; I stand here as living proof that sometimes it does. I thank God that my wife Debra was and is, a branch on that tree.
I would like to thank you all for being here today. Many have travelled from far to be with us. A special thanks to those who have guided Anthony spiritually and emotionally every step of this journey. There have been so many good friends and mentors, especially among all the priests gathered here, but I want to acknowledge a few in particular. Although he is a Red Sox fan in Yankee land, Father Shawn Daly has been an incredible mentor to Anthony and a guide to our family. Father Tom Sievel has been helping Anthony since he was seven years old and it was Father Sievel who took Anthony to Haiti not once, but twice. Father Jeff Gubbiotti was Anthony’s Vocations Director for several years and has become a close friend. Father Jeff was Anthony’s choice to vest him in the priestly garments you saw today. I would also like to recognize Father Jeff Romans who will be Anthony’s pastor at Saint Bridget of Sweden parish in Cheshire, his new assignment. Father Jeff has been inviting Anthony over to his rectory for five years and as fate would have it, now Anthony will be moving in there to begin his priestly journey. Father Rhett Williams and Deacon Tim Deely who have been such close friends to Anthony these last six years. Father Rhett just celebrated one year as a priest and Deacon Tim will be ordained a priest one week from today. Father Daly, Father Sievel, Father Gubbiotti, Father Romans, Father Williams and soon-to-be Father Deely – can you please stand?
And far and away the most influential person in Anthony’s life has been my beautiful wife, his mom, Debra. We are blessed to have Debra here today after a recent illness threatened the heart and soul of our family. Thank you for your prayers for her recovery. Deb – please take a bow.
Several years ago, when my son told me he was entering the seminary, many questions came to mind. My wife and I had different emotions: I thought I was losing a son, but she thought she hit the lotto. Here was a well-educated writer with a girlfriend and a high-paying job. I always knew he was destined for success so I asked myself “why would he give all that up?” I discovered the answer to that question when I visited him for the first time in the seminary in Washington, DC. Then I realized how naive I was. I thought a seminary was a dark, quiet place. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The seminary is a place of joy and laughter. We met so many young men who have had tremendous success in all walks of life – gifted, talented, sought-after men who could have done anything they want to. Yet they all chose to follow the calling to be a priest. So many of them are here today. What I observed was a group of guys who were completely at peace and fulfilled with their lives. Can all the seminarians and alumni of Theological College please stand?
On one trip to DC for his birthday, Anthony asked if we would take a few friends out to dinner. We said sure no problem. When we got off the elevator into the lobby that night, we saw 27 guys waiting to head out with us. Anthony can’t say no to anyone. We changed from a sit-down dinner to pizza and beers and we all had a blast.
Ladies and gentlemen, look around you, at all the young priests and future priests here tonight. The future of our parishes are sitting among you and I can tell you from first-hand experience, our future is in good hands. For them, this venture was not about fame and fortune – it was about a special calling to lay down your life in the service of others.
So, when I met these guys, I thought that my wife and I did have a part to play in that special plan which God had for our family. No, I was not losing a son, I was merely sharing my first-born with the world.
Yet, I still had many questions. Some of them were kind of funny. Like, what do I call him? I can’t call him Father, I’m his father. What do his brothers and sisters call him? They can’t call him father, he is the brother. Do I get him a gift on Father’s Day? Well, I asked some of these questions to Father Mike Ruminski one day while we were having lunch on our deck. His answer was simply “no to the gift and just call him Anthony.”
The Bible story of Zebedee and his sons shows us that it’s hard to leave everything behind to follow the Lord’s call. Right after Anthony entered the seminary, it hit me: I was at Mass and the Gospel was about this fisherman named Zebedee, who had a fishing business with his sons. His sons left him to follow Jesus. I felt like Zebedee. And that’s why my children gave me that sign that you see at the table up front. It has taught me that our children are not our own – they are on loan and we must raise them to let them go.
As you know, the life of a priest is not easy. As Anthony’s ordination card states to be a priest means “to live in the midst of the world without seeking its pleasures, to be a member of each family yet belonging to none, to share all sufferings and hardships, to heal all wounds, to bring pardon and hope to all and to bring everyone closer to Christ.” These are their everyday tasks. I recently asked a priest what a good gift is to get for him and he said “pray for me and all the clergy.” Well, to all the priests in the room. Thank you. You have our prayers as well as our gratitude.
My wife and I are extremely proud of all of our children: Michael, Christina, Andrew, Julie, LJ and our granddaughter Rosalia. Anthony, your mother and I are so excited for you to begin your journey as a priest. Some say your best attribute is public speaking but I believe your best attribute is your ability to listen. I am so glad you are assigned to a church close by in Cheshire because God knows your mother would have driven anywhere to see you celebrate Mass. My son, please think of us every time you raise your new chalice and think of the words inscribed on the bottom “He has chosen you, love mom and dad.”
Thank you all for being here and thank God for bringing us all together.”
What a beautiful reflection on the call of a priest. Mr. Federico says so clearly what many priest’s parents have thought through the years. I hope this story will help our young families to see that a vocation to the priesthood and religious life is not a waste of a life, or a way one loses their son or daughter, but it is a God-given calling, a life filled with peace and joy. Of course no life is without crosses, but Jesus gives us all the grace we need each day to pick up our cross and follow Him. Let’s encourage our young men and women to consider God’s call in their lives and let’s support them with our prayers as they discern His will.
THERE IS STILL ROOM BUT TIME IS RUNNING OUT---SIGN-UP TODAY! Want to join us on our pilgrimage to ITALY? There are TWO SEATS LEFT!!! We are going October 1-10, 2019 to visit the Almalfi Coast and Rome! We will be seeing a lot during these days! We will visit the Floral Gardens of Caesar Augustus in Capri, the Saint Andrew Cathedral along the Amalfi Coast, the excavations in Pompeii, the sites of the life of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio). We will also visit Lanciano, a town most noted for the Eucharistic Miracle which became the foundation for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Finally, we will spend a couple of days in Rome, the Eternal City, where we will see the Vatican Museums, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Catacombs, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and more including plans for the weekly Papal Audience on Wednesday in Saint Peter’s Square.
This pilgrimage includes round-trip air from JFK, four-star hotels in Sorrento, San Giovanni Rotondo, and Rome, 6 dinners, breakfast daily, English-speaking licensed tour escort throughout, private motorcoach transportation, Daily Mass, and more. Cost per person in double occupancy is $3,779.00. Space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Initial deposit of $500 is due at time of registration. To register, please call Candy at Elite Travel at 203-271-0623 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I hope you will join us!
DON’T FORGET TO SIGN-UP FOR OUR MID-SUMMER MOVIE NIGHT…thank you to Mary Beth Chamberlain and Cathy Niglio who are organizing a Mid-Summer Movie Night on Saturday, July 20th beginning at 6PM on the grounds behind Saint Bridget School. Please join us for an evening of food, fun, and a movie on the field. There will be plenty of time for socializing, and for games for our younger parishioners such as kickball or whiffle ball out on the ball field, and more prior to the movie time.
The movie we are planning to show is Ralph Breaks the Internet and we will begin the movie as close to 8:15p.m. that evening as possible depending on the darkness of the sky. I really hope you will plan to come and join us for a great evening! Cost is only $10 per family including the movie, popcorn, and s’mores. You can bring your own food, as many do, or sign-up for pizza on the registration form. Please see flyers at all the doors to register or visit our website at www.stbridgetcheshire.org, or simply email Mary Beth Chamberlain at MChamberlain@stbridgetcheshire.org for further information. I hope you will join us!
As always, remember to pray for vocations, pray for our young people, pray for our parish families and ask God’s blessings as we strive to build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.