Home»Features»Ordination Traditions

Ordination Traditions

Pinterest WhatsApp

Explore the traditions of this joyous time in pictures

For coverage of the 2021 ordination, click here.

This article first appeared online in May 2018.

Tradition of the first blessing

Waiting to receive a blessing from a new priest is a longstanding ordination day tradition. After Mass, the new priests are greeted by their former seminary classmates, who kneel for blessings.

Father Jacob Willig, followed by Father Jarred Kohn, blesses seminarians following his ordination to the priesthood. (CT photo/E.L. Hubbard)


At the reception that follows the annual priest ordination, people line up to for first blessings from the priests they know. Here, before making his way down the stairs to the undercroft, Father Jarred Kohn stops to bless his mother waiting next to the cathedral’s baptismal font. (CT photo/E.L. Hubbard)


Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr established a new tradition here: He kneels for a blessing from each new priest before the recessional. Here he receives a blessing from Father Andrew Smith. (CT photo/E.L. Hubbard)

Tradition of the manutergium

Each manutergium presented at the ordination was embroidered with the priest’s name. (Courtesy photo)

The cloth a priest uses to wipe the blessed chrism from his hands after being ordained is called the manutergium, and represents the burial cloth of Christ. According to a tradition many dioceses are reviving, priests present the manutergia to their mothers at their first Masses. The women are buried holding them, so that at the Last Judgment everyone on Heaven and Earth will know they are the mothers of priests and can present the cloths to Christ, saying, “my son, too, shared in your priesthood.” The manutergia for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are made by vestment maker and seminary volunteer Jaqueline Kaiser, who embroiders each with the name of the priest.


Tradition of the first Mass

A new priest’s first time presiding at Mass usually takes place at his home parish on the day after his ordination. It’s often especially elaborate, because priest friends and mentors, seminary companions, and parish servers are eager to take part, and parishioners, family, and friends want to be present for the historic day. This year, the day after ordination was Pentecost, one of the church’s greatest feast days, adding the splendor of red vestments, special music, and the annual sequence “Come, Holy Spirit” (Veni, Sancte Spiritus) to the celebration.

Father Jacob Willig celebrates his first Mass at St. Antoninus, Cincinnati. (CT photo/Greg Hartman)


Father Craig Best celebrates his first Mass at St. Margaret-St. John, Cincinnati. (Courtesy photo)


Father Andrew Smith celebrates his first Mass at St. Luke, Beavercreek. (Courtesy photo)

Tradition of the first confessional stole

In another tradition being revived around the country, at his first Mass a new priest gives his father the stole he wore to hear his first confession. During the sacrament of penance the penitent receives God’s justice, mercy, and reconciling love. Because a priest first learns about mercy and justice from his father, the gift is an appropriate one. According to this tradition, priests’ fathers are buried holding the purple stoles, and when raised on the last day can present them to Christ and say, “my son, too, shared in Your priesthood.” 

Father Jarred Kohn explains why he is about to give his stole to his father at his first Mass, celebrated at St. Mary, Philothea. (Courtesy Photo)



Previous post

“Thou Art A Priest Forever” Priestly Ordination and Ontological Change

Next post

Seek the Lord for May 2023