Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained him to the priesthood Sept. 16 at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel on the campus of St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
In remarks at the morning Mass, the bishop reflected on joy, noting that Pope Francis encourages all to be people of joy. “Joy is not a mater of fleeting moments of happiness…but knowing we are in God’s hands even when we are struggling,” he said, noting that the joy of Christians empowers them to do great things. “The joy of the priesthood is knowing we are configured to Christ” while serving others.
As a priest, Father Carter’s personal focus will be continuing to build connections with a wide array of people, believers and non-believers, Catholics and non-Catholics. “One of the great mysteries of God is God's ability to work into people's hearts even if they are rigidly opposed to spirituality and religion. I hope I can be a conduit of that journey,” he said. “In keeping with the charism of the Society of St. Edmund, my emphasis is always on those who find themselves marginalized from the Church and from God. It is in the margins that the creative power of God is most fundamentally displayed.”
The Society of St. Edmund – celebrating its 175th anniversary – founded St. Michael’s College.
In his homily at the ordination Mass, Bishop Coyne explained that though God made His entire people a royal priesthood in Christ, Jesus chose certain disciples to carry out publically, in His name and on behalf of humankind, a priestly office in the Church.
“Impart to everyone the Word of God which you have received with joy,” he told Father Carter. “Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe and that you practice what you teach.”
He asked that the holiness of the new priest’s life be a “delightful fragrance” to the faithful so that by word and example he may build up the Church.
During the Mass, Father Carter publically resolved to care for the Lord’s flock, to worthily and wisely preach the Gospel and teach the Catholic faith and to celebrate the sacraments faithfully and reverently for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people. He also resolved to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to his care and to be united more closely every day to Christ and to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.
During the Litany of Supplication Father Carter lay prostrate in front of the altar, then, after the Laying on of Hands, Prayer of Ordination and Prayer of Consecration at the ordination, Edmundite Father David Cray, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Charlotte and St. Jude Church in Hinesburg, assisted Father Carter in his investiture with the stole and chasuble.
Father Carter knelt before the bishop who anointed his hands with holy Chrism. He later placed a paten and chalice in the newly ordained priest’s hands. “Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate: Model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross,” he said.
Born in Burlington, the son of Richard M. Carter and Kathleen M. Carter attended Christ the King School through eighth grade then Burlington High School. A member of the St. Michael's College Class of 2012, he earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with a minor in political science. He received a master of divinity degree from Boston College in 2016 and worked in the clinical pastoral education program at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
He chose the Edmundite priesthood because during his college years he was inspired by the sense of camaraderie and brotherhood the members of the Society of St. Edmund embodied and by the way certain members modeled for him a spirit of justice and activism that he had not encountered before. “Not to in any way downplay the tireless and faithful efforts of priests working in the parishes of the Diocese of Burlington, but for myself as an individual I never discerned that parish ministry was my primary vocation, therefore an order that had parish connection without being specifically a parochial order was intriguing to me,” he said.
Father Carter is currently an assistant to Edmundite Father Charles Ranges in the Essex Catholic community, teaches at St. Michael's College and assists in Edmundite Campus Ministry.
“Our [Edmundite] foundational ethos is a spirit of education and evangelization, particularly to those who may not otherwise hear of the love of God,” Father Carter said in an interview before his ordination. “Working in education at St. Michael's College, sometimes among a population that has never encountered the love of God, provides ample opportunity for that blessing. Needless to say, my home state of Vermont is mission territory writ large.”
Asked about his gifts that he brings to the priesthood, Father Carter said, “I think one is an ability (or at least a desire) to be able to connect with people on a level that makes them comfortable. That means having no preconceived notions, no judgments of any kind and no agenda when speaking with people other than to let them know that they are heard, that they are respected and that they are loved, by both myself and by God. Everything else in ministerial life stems from that.”
A sense of humor is also important. “I pride myself on a sense of humor. I take my work and mission seriously, but my own quirks and weaknesses allow me to laugh at myself,” he said. “A ministry without laughter is a ministry doomed to failure.”
To men considering the priesthood, Father Carter suggests they see the fun, humor and joy in this life as much as the difficulties and sacrifice: “There are elements of both present, but they should balance each other out.”
Also, he calls them to recognize that God loves each person as an individual. “Don't try to be someone or something that you are not. God makes particular demands on God's priests, but one of those demands is not to cease being a distinct and unique individual. It takes all kinds, and there is room in the priesthood for all kinds,” he said.
The last ordination for the Society of St. Edmund was in 2014 when Father Lino Oropeza was ordained at St. Michael's College.
Father Carter asked that anyone that is concerned about the state of the Church to think seriously about the men in their lives that they think may have a vocation or might make a good priest and mention it to them. “Be it for the Diocese, the Society of St. Edmund or elsewhere, actual talking and contact with people and setting an example is what makes vocations appear real,” he said. “Prayers are wonderful and beautiful, but prayer without action is robbing yourself of the most effective way that God works in the world.”
- Published in Diocesan