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By José Sánchez

August 7, 2023 – On Friday, August 4, the Jesuit Province of Canada celebrated the priestly ordination of Fr. Erik Sorensen, SJ, (CAN) at the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in Montreal, Quebec, by Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny. The chapel, often referred to as the “Sailors’ Church”, stands as a historic beacon of hope and faith in the heart of Montreal.

Cardinal Czerny and Fr. Sorensen
Cardinal Czerny and Fr. Erik Sorensen

The ceremony resonated with a spirit of joy and reverence as friends, family, and fellow Jesuits gathered to witness this significant moment for the Church and especially for the Jesuit Province of Canada.

Cardinal Czerny, in his homily, touched upon the essence of the priesthood, emphasizing its core as a call to service. For Fr. Erik Sorensen, this ordination is not just a personal milestone but a communal celebration of commitment to serve the wider community. The ceremony, steeped in tradition, underscored the journey of selflessness and dedication, a reminder that every ordained individual is called to walk alongside the faithful, guiding and being guided, in a shared journey of faith and love.

Cardinal Czerny, in his homily, touched upon the essence of the priesthood, emphasizing its core as a call to service.

Joys and Temptations

Cardinal Czerny reminded Fr. Sorensen of the profound responsibility that comes with priesthood, saying, “it is only by meeting people and getting to know them that he can ask: ‘how are they?’ And he will discover the terrible conditions of people who are afflicted, broken-hearted, captives, prisoners, mourners, dishonoured…” and that priests are called to “accompany, guide, and serve them.”

Cardinal Czerny also spoke of the joys and challenges of priestly ministry. He told Fr. Sorensen, “Today the Church sends you into the world, as a living sign of Christ’s presence. You will know the joy of being a missionary disciple, experiencing the sweetness of ministry, especially in ordinary moments and simple everyday gestures. Savour them with gratitude and charity in your heart.”

Referencing the feeding of the 5000 from the Gospel, he acknowledged the difficulties that come with this calling, saying, “At the same time, your priestly ministry will lead you where you don’t want to go, to experience moments of fatigue and discouragement. You will feel overwhelmed by the many demands of the people entrusted to you, and be mortified by the ingratitude of those who demand without even giving you a thought.”

In these moments, he warned of the temptation to “dismiss the crowd” and urged Fr. Sorensen to turn to prayer and to the company of Jesus, to “sharpen the spiritual senses, cultivating, in prayerful silence, the ability to see, hear, touch, smell and taste God’s mercy.” He encouraged him to generously extend ‘misericordia’ to the people of God, reminding again that the secret to a good priestly life lies in looking at the needs of the world with the heart of Christ.

In a nod to the Jesuit commitment to reconciliation, the ceremony included an Indigenous chant by members of Kateri Native Ministry, an Ottawa-based ministry with which Fr. Sorensen has served in the past.

In a nod to the Jesuit commitment to reconciliation, the ceremony included an Indigenous chant by members of Kateri Native Ministry, an Ottawa-based ministry with which Fr. Sorensen has served in the past.

What’s Next

Fr. Sorensen receives a warm hug from his confrere Fr. Len Altilia, SJ

Fr. Sorensen’s journey to this day has been marked by profound experiences and acts of service. He participated in a 500-mile (800-kilometer) canoe pilgrimage in Canada that focused on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, he volunteered with a small team of Jesuits to provide emergency support at a Jesuit infirmary, showcasing his dedication and commitment to the community.

As he embarks on the next chapter of his journey, Fr. Sorensen will pursue doctoral studies in liturgy and interreligious dialogue with Indigenous peoples, further deepening his commitment to reconciliation and understanding.

Following the ordination ceremony, a heartfelt celebration was held, attended by close friends, Jesuits, family, and many of those who have been a part of Fr. Sorensen’s journey.

To learn more about Fr. Erik Sorensen’s journey and his future endeavors, click here.

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