Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC

Vice-Rector of Shrine Liturgy, National Shrine of The Divine Mercy
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Anthony Gramlich
Imagine experiencing a touch of Heaven and then a special sense of family! That was my experience when I was ordained to the sacred priesthood on July 13, 2002, and then celebrated my first Mass the following day.

I was ordained in the sanctuary of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. During the actual ordination — the laying on of hands and the Prayer of Consecration — I was transported out of this world into another one. I was there, but I wasn't there. It was almost like a touch of heaven. With ordination, you go through the seminary and you read about it, but then you experience it and can't put it into words. Even the theological words fall short.

The highlight of my first Mass the following day was a special sense of family. Following the tradition of the parents of a new priest providing him with a chalice and paten for his first Mass, my parents presented me with a chalice and paten.

And the chalice they gave me is of the Holy Family. On the base is an artistic rendering of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which represents for me my spiritual mother and earthly mother. There is an image of St. Joseph as well, representing for me my spiritual father and earthly father. Finally, there is an image of Jesus on the chalice.

This symbolism on the chalice summed up the family experience of my first Mass. All of the children in my family, many of my fellow Marians, and several Marian Helpers were all present — making it a very special family celebration.

During my priestly life of service to God's family, these are memories that I will always treasure.

Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, is the host of "Mercy Moments Bible Study."