San Antonio, Texas, Sep 10, 2014 / 16:01 pm
Family members of a priest who died of cancer just two days after his ordination say that his brief priesthood was an incredible blessing, for which they are grateful.
"In the midst of the sadness because he was very sick, his ordination was a tremendous blessing for us," said Miriam Carmona, Fr. William Carmona's eldest sister who lives in Medellin, Colombia.
"In a family of sinners, because each one of us have many defects, the arrival of a priest is a great blessing. We are grateful to God because his dream, for which he fought so hard, became true," she told CNA Sept. 10.
Fr. Carmona was a fourth year Theology seminarian studying at San Antonio's Assumption Seminary. Planning to ultimately serve as a priest in the Diocese of Nashville, he was preparing to be ordained as a transitional deacon. Plans changed, however, due to a battle with colon cancer.
Seriously ill, the 51-year-old native of Columbia received his priestly ordination at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital Northwest on Sept. 8. Two days later, he died.
Miriam said the family is experiencing both grief and hope. She recalled seeing her brother last December when he came to visit.
"He never complained," she said. "He was thin, eating very, very little, but never complained. He was extremely responsible and reliable, and that was one of the character traits that the Bishop of Nashville took into account (to ordain him). He was always abandoned to God's will."
"He was a source of hope to our family, the best we had. My dad, a man of Deep prayer, really loved priests, William always had a great influence on my dad".
Bishop David Choby of Nashville celebrated the Sept. 8 ordination Mass, along with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio and Monsignor Jeff Pehl.
"The joy and satisfaction in administering the Sacrament of Holy Orders is a high point in the life of any bishop, but to have the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament for one who is so much looking forward to ordination but faces the certainty of death made it the more poignant," Bishop Choby said Sept. 10.
"In a way that is singularly focused, the priesthood has as its center the mystery of Redemption, which is the dying and the rising of the Lord."
He said that the ordination of Fr. Carmona reflects how "our own lives are transformed in the death and Resurrection of Jesus."
Father Carmona was laying in his hospital bed during the ordination, surrounded by priests, fellow seminarians, and many friends, the San Antonio archdiocese said. The bishop laid hands on him, he was given a stole, and his hands were anointed with sacred oils.
During his homily for the Mass ahead of the ordination rite, Bishop Choby stressed that redemption and salvation is not "dependent upon what human beings accomplish."
The bishop said that Carmona is "the servant of the mystery of God…even at this moment in his life, not being able to accomplish many of the things a priest would normally accomplish."
In a way, the bishop said, Fr. Carmona "participates in that which is most central to the life of faith, which is the mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection."
Bishop Choby said the ordination is "a sign of that which unites us in a common hope for the redemption that God promises us in the Resurrection of the Lord."
This sign unites Christians "so that even in the midst of the most severe difficulties of life, while those difficulties may test us, while those difficulties may bring us grief and sorrow, they are challenges that do not bring about a spirit of hopelessness, because we find in our communion with the Lord the basis of our hope."