NEW JERSEY- Deacon Bartholomew Mercado was ordained into the Holy priesthood by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America on Saturday December 11 at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Toms River, New Jersey.
Archbishop Elpidophoros’ concelebrants were Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos and clergy from the New Jersey Metropolis.
Addressing the ordained Deacon Bartholomew Archbishop Elpidophoros among other things he said the following: “Beloved Deacon Bartholomew, At this moment, you stand before the Holy Altar, in the presence of the Pleroma of the Church. All the ranks of the Priesthood are here, together with the laity. And you stand in your diaconal robes – to which you have brought honor and dignity through your ministry – ready to receive, from my humble hands, the great gift of becoming a Presbyter of God’s Holy Church. Today, your Orarion is transfigured into the Epitrachelion.”
In his reply Deacon Bartholomew said, among other things: “Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, though I find myself replete with joy and anticipation as I stand before God and before you in these moments prior to my ordination to the Holy Presbyterate, I am also overcome with fear and trembling as I ponder the immense responsibilities which are to be required of me in this new capacity. To serve God, who gave me life and who sustains my being, and to serve His people is the greatest blessing and the most distinct honor that can be entrusted to anyone. At the same time, it is a most fearful prospect, due to my unworthiness, to minister his Divine and Sacred Sacraments. Even with all of my learning and with my experience thus far as a clergyman, I nevertheless feel a great sense of deficiency. No level of education, no quantity of books, no number of hours of preparation made, could ever adequately prepare one for embarking on this noble task. It is only through the Divine Grace of the Holy Spirit which heals that which is infirm and fulfills that which is lacking, that I will be able to adequately serve this Sacred Archdiocese and, through it, the holy people of God.”
He also said, “I would like to thank His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of Sardis who ordained me to the Holy Diaconate a little more than four years ago, giving me a name difficult to live up to, but a tremendous honor to bear. I am truly thankful to have received his blessing to further my theological studies both here in the United States and in Italy as these studies have helped me to grow both spiritually and intellectually.”