After a full day of events and meetings on Wednesday, Pope Francis made his way to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the canonization Mass of Junipero Serra, which he celebrated with 275 bishops, almost 1,000 priests, 200 deacons and over 27,000 lay faithful and religious.
One of the priests in attendance was Rev. Albert Scharbach, an Ordinariate priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who is married with eight children. He was ordained in 2013 and now serves as pastor of Mount Calvary Church in the heart of the city.
The Ordinariate was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to enable groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their patrimony that can in turn be shared with the broader Catholic world.
Fr. Scharbach, you concelebrated the Mass with the Holy Father; what was the highlight for you?
Simply being there. In a profound way, I saw myself as the pope’s priest — connected to the Holy Father. As an Anglican priest, when I would go to the hospital and someone would say, ‘Are you a Catholic priest?’ and I had to say ‘no,’ it became painfully apparent that something was lacking there. When, by conscience, I had to become Catholic, I had to lay down my priesthood not knowing if I’d ever be able to pick it up again; I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to make that visceral desire a reality again. After 5 years of being laicized, it was gratifying beyond words to be able to say Mass with my local bishop after I was ordained a Catholic priest, knowing he is connected to the Holy Father. But now to say Mass with the pope himself, really confirms that reality for me — that I am his priest, connected to the center of the Church, to that authority in an organic way...