By Connie Berry
A few days before ordination, Father James (Jamie) Schultz said, “I’m a little nervous.” But on Saturday, June 4, his ordination day, he appeared calm and joyful. When he and Bishop Robert Cunningham walked down the aisle of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to the sound of applause after his ordination, the new Father Schultz looked up to the ceiling with a big grin on his face. He looked at home.
A Norwich native, Father Schultz’s home parish is St. Malachy’s in Sherburne. His pastor, Father Lester Smith, put the stole and chasuble on Father Schultz during his investiture. An ordinand receives his vestments just after the bishop completes the prayer of consecration and the Sacrament of Ordination.
Father Schultz’s road to ordination began with the tiny steps of a prayerful home with parents who led the rosary every night and made sure the family, with 13 children total, ate dinner together. His parents, Jane and Michael Schultz, were the first to receive a blessing from their son after his ordination.
Father Schultz is not the first of their children to give their life in service to God and the church. Their daughter Ellen, now Sister Mary Emmanuel, took her vows as a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia almost a year ago. She was also there on Saturday to see her brother ordained. Timothy and Matthew Schultz, who are both in the process of discernment for the diocese, took part in the ordination. Matthew served as thurifer and Timothy as book bearer. Other members of the family read and brought up the gifts.
Father Schultz entered the seminary when he was nearly 30 years old. He had worked in banking in Boston, tried his hand at pitching baseball and worked teaching English in Germany. It was a trip to a monastery in France on his way home that really set him to thinking about the priesthood.
“The monks there could have done anything with their lives and yet they chose to live inside those four walls,” Father Schultz said. He also explained that his family’s faith played an important role in his vocation.
“The faith is very important in our family,” he said. “We did say the rosary every night. We knelt down and lit a candle. It was clear in our house that God was number one.”
As Bishop Cunningham began the day’s celebration he said, “Today is a day of great celebration and also a day of prayer. We need to put aside distracting thoughts and concentrate on what is about to happen.”
Every element of the ordination was filled with meaning and intent. Bishop Cunningham sat directly across from Father Schultz to give his homily as if he were talking personally to him. Bishop Cunningham asked that Father Schultz be faithful and obedient to him and his successors and also to the Holy Father. He told him he would need to be humble. Reflecting on what Pope Benedict XVI wrote about the priesthood, the bishop said, “You will need to be humble, obedient and give yourself completely to the Lord.”
Bishop Cunningham thanked the ordinand’s parents for the gift of the new priest.
“You will soon belong to all of us,” Bishop Cunningham told Father Schultz in his homily. “We want to express our gratitude to your parents for creating a home in which the seed of vocation could be planted and nourished.”
After the bishop’s homily, he asked for the then-candidate’s willingness to become a priest. After he agreed, the candidate placed his hands inside the bishop’s as a symbol of his pledge of obedience. Father Schultz then lay prostrate on the floor while the congregation invoked the prayers and assistance of the Communion of the Saints. Then, just as the Apostles did in the election of the first deacons of the church, all the priests in attendance lay hands on Father Schultz. His consecration followed and then the investiture and anointing of hands with sacred chrism symbolizing the new priest’s service to God’s people.
The kiss of peace that took place after the presentation of the gifts meant a greeting and hug from each priest. This signified Father Schultz’s role as a co-worker in ministry of the church.
All the training and education that led to his ordination, particularly his pastoral year with Father Joseph Zareski at St. John the Evangelist in New Hartford, helped prepare Father Schultz for his newest role — parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Church in Cicero. Bishop Cunningham announced his first assignment at the conclusion of the celebration.
Father Schultz explained how he hopes he can live out his priesthood in an interview days before his ordination.
“I am going to work on being an authentic person,” he said. “One who can listen, have compassion, relate to other people and be there for them. We’re called to be authentic, prayerful people. We try to always be in friendship with God all our lives. How do you pass that on from generation to generation? I don’t have all the answers and I haven’t been a priest yet, but faith is an amazing gift and I want to share it.”