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By Andrew Lauria
Contributing Writer

God is good, all the time!”
This is the chant used at Guggenheim summer camp to call everybody to silence while in a group. 
And this same chant best explains the endless cheering and clapping this weekend at what the Guggenheim entourage lovingly coined Ordinationpalooza.

This weekend we witnessed both Father Tom Higman and Deacon Scott Belina publically answer a resounding “all the time” as they dedicated their lives to the goodness of God through service to His holy church. And it took an entire weekend to properly celebrate such an amazing moment in our North Country Church history.

It is not often that we young people get to publically celebrate our Catholic faith, so we took full advantage of the opportunity this past weekend. Over 30 young people from recent Guggenheim “generations” completed the entire Ordinationpalooza circuit with great enthusiasm.

Within three days, we celebrated over eight hours of liturgy in four different churches, attended five receptions at five different venues, and spent almost 24 hours at post-liturgical Guggenheim after-parties. Along with the ordinations, we also celebrated a birthday and engagement.  As a group, we laughed uncontrollably, shared long-winded stories of our favorite memories together with Tom and Scott, danced until our feet hurt, sang until our vocal chords quit, and partook in a vitality that can only be explained as Divine. And considering that most of us drove at least a few hundred miles to get there, I think it is fair to say that we properly palooza-ed.  If the pure joy experienced this weekend was just a tiny glimpse of heaven, then we have something indescribably amazing to look forward to for the rest of eternity.

So why such an intense weekend of celebration?  Why the 72 hours of constant prayer and partying? Because the ordinations of Father Tom and Deacon Scott are worthy of being celebrated in such an exuberant manner. 
As a group, we have anticipated this weekend for years and in a small way, shared in the same expectance that the world experienced while waiting for their Savior. And just like in the age of Jesus, Father Tom and Deacon Scott’s witness to the Truth is a triumph in a time of moral apathy and religious hostility.  They are saying yes to God with their lives and yes to the life only He can bring.  This stands in stark contrast to the rest of the world that struggles to find its way through the darkness. They are the light to our world, impersonating the light of Christ that came into the world over two thousand years ago.  This is quite a reason to celebrate!

God hears our prayers and when we respond to Him, we are filled with joy.  People need to see joy in the world today.  It is no coincidence that Father Tom was ordained on the feast day of Saint Philip Neri, the notoriously good-natured saint, famous for his joy and levity. Just as Pope Benedict XVI mentions when speaking about The New Evangelization, Father Tom and Deacon Scott are living the reality that God is faithful to His people and the result of that faithfulness is a profound joy. 

How blessed are we who had the opportunity to experience that joy this weekend! And joy through obedience to Christ is what brings us together as a Guggenheim community. This eagerness and acceptance of the Lord’s will was first seen in our Blessed Mother in her Fiat, her “yes” to serve the Lord completely.

We in our Guggenheim community try to support this same personal “yes” to the Lord in each other.  It is in solitude that we hear our call, but it is through our relationships with each other that we find the way to answer it. By setting such a profound example, Father Tom and Deacon Scott have therefore encouraged us in a profound way to continue to seek and then to follow our vocations both independently and as a group.

I am so proud of Father Tom and Deacon Scott.  I am blessed to call them friends. Being with them this past weekend was indescribable.  I cannot think of two better men to accept the blessed yet terrifying challenge of priesthood in the modern world.  But I know that I speak for the entire Guggenheim community when I say that they have led us closer to the Lord through their examples of accepting and living out their vocations to the priesthood.  As a group, we join the chorus of Saints in heaven with great joy in saying, “Well done, my good and faithful ones.” 

Congratulations Father Tom and Deacon Scott! Alright, who is up for Ordinationpalooza II next year?!

Belina, Lauria and Higman

Photo by Seth Conklin
Andrew Lauria, a teacher at Seton Catholic School in Plattsburgh, is pictured with his friends Deacon Scott Belina, left; and Father Tom Higman, during a celebration of their ordinations. The three became friends while working at Guggenheim.

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