Six young men will lie prone in front of Bishop Carl A. Kemme next week in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. Five will be ordained priests and one will be ordained to the transitional diaconate.
Gabriel Greer, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Pittsburg, will be ordained a deacon at 7 p.m. Friday, May 22. Although he – a third year theology student – makes up his entire ordination class, next year a large group of young men, God- and bishop-willing, will follow him to the altar to be ordained deacons.
In response to questions emailed to all the diocese’s ordinandi, the men to be ordained wrote about their upcoming reception of Holy Orders.
Greer said he is both excited and fearful as his ordination draws near. “The many different things learned throughout seminary are about to become a reality as I prepare to make a public commitment of my entire self to God and his ministry,” he said. “I am looking forward to proclaiming the Word of God and preaching, but at the same time there is quite a bit of nervousness around preaching.”
He quoted a recent church document that stated: “The homily in some sense parallels the distribution of the Lord’s Body and Blood to the faithful during the communion rite. In the homily God’s holy Word is ‘distributed’ for the nourishment of his people.”
Greer said the parallel between the two “makes me nervous knowing that the preaching of God’s Word in some way is compared to the nourishment that is received in the reception of Holy Communion.”
Seminary has been enjoyable, he said, years marked by prayer and an increase of self-knowledge. “All things I hope will help me give of myself in total gift to the people of God in the Diocese of Wichita.”
A perennial question the Catholic Advance asks men who are about to be ordained is: “What advice do you have for a young man considering the priesthood?”
Greer recommended that young men considering the priesthood should learn to pray daily and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. “Christ desires to speak to each of us in a unique and particular way, and he can only do this if we open ourselves up to him. A more practical encouragement would be to frequently receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession.”
Five transitional deacons will be ordained to the priesthood at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 23, in the Cathedral.
The Rev. Mr. Devin Burns
Deacon Devin Burns, member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said he is taking the time before his upcoming ordination to thank God for the many gifts and graces that have led “him to approach the altar and to serve Him as a priest.”
He said he can’t wait to serve the many people – priests, teachers, parishioners, family and friends – who have helped him to keep seminary formation in perspective and inspire him to grow in holiness. “I would never have survived six years in seminary without all my brother seminarians throughout the years.”
Men interested in the priesthood might ask, “Can I really be happy without a wife and family?” Deacon Burns wrote.
“I never would have found that answer if I didn’t trust God enough to first enter seminary,” he said. “The question lingered at times during seminary, but during times of quiet prayer I always found God reassuring me with his peace and joy. You will never be able to follow God’s will if you do not believe that he will fulfill all your needs with a joy that is beyond understanding.”
The Rev. Mr. Josh Evans
Deacon Josh Evans, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Pittsburg, said as his ordination approached he found himself thinking about what has to happen “before” May 23.
“At the Mount (St. Mary’s Seminary), we are still plugging away at school, wrapping up our final papers and projects,” he said. “First Mass plans are underway, invitations are almost complete. Thank goodness my mom, Nancy, has been so helpful.
“Between planning and organizing my younger sister’s wedding, my ordination, and then my little brother’s wedding all happening in three months, I am sure she’s ready to pull her hair out! I’m looking forward to coming home after being away for the last seven years.”
The time, though, has been thoroughly enjoyable, Deacon Evans said.
“These years in seminary have certainly been the most formative years of my life, he said. “I am most grateful to everyone who has made this possible. I have enjoyed the fraternity of my seminarian brothers and priests back in Wichita. I’ve enjoyed my studies and opportunities to pray and discover my vocation. I’ve enjoyed meeting the people of the Diocese of Wichita whom I will soon be serving.”
What he has enjoyed most about his studies is “discovering the goodness of God and how much he loves me,” he said. “Receiving the identity of a beloved son of God is a priceless gift from Our Father. Seminary was the place that God allowed me to discover this and my vocation.”
For those considering the seminary, Deacon Evans suggested they talk to Father Michael Simone, director of the diocesan Vocations Office.
“I went into seminary to try to prove to myself that I was not called. I had my own dreams and wanted to do other things. As it turns out, God had other plans,” he said. “ A man will always be wondering whether or not he was called to the priesthood if he doesn’t go and at least try seminary out. The seminary is the seedbed of a vocation: If you have one, it will grow there.”
The Rev. Mr. Curtis Hecker
Deacon Curtis Hecker said a couple of weeks ago, that he was focused on finishing the semester well and making sure that he is well-prepared to celebrate the sacraments once he is ordained. “Spiritually, I have been praying about the priesthood in order to be better prepared to receive this great sacrament.”
Although he enjoyed many aspects about the seminary, he said, the most important was “to come to know Jesus Christ in a much more intimate way than I ever thought possible.”
Deacon Hecker, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Arkansas City, added that he will miss being surrounded by so many good men “who are all striving for holiness and who are willing to help one another out in times of need.”
He said he wishes someone would have told him in high school that you do not have to be 100 percent sure that God is calling you to enter a seminary.
“When I was in high school I thought that God might be calling me to the priesthood, but I was not sure, so I didn’t enter seminary until several years later. Obviously, before you go to seminary you should have some indication that that is what God wants for you and you should have some desire for the priesthood, but the seminary is a place of discernment. If you go there and are open to God’s will, then he will lead you on the right path.”
The Rev. Mr. Zachary Pinaire
Deacon Zachary Pinaire, a member of St. Mary Parish, Derby-Rose Hill, replied to the Catholic Advance questionnaire by starting with a countdown to his ordination, and added, “There are a number of things to organize and bring together logistically before ordination: invitations, Mass programs, dinners, etc. However, amongst all of those little ‘stresses,’ there is an over arching peace and excitement of finally stepping fully into the vocation that I have been called to live.”
He said seminary study provided a way to deepen and grow in his relationship with Jesus, and that two things came to mind when reflecting about his studies: First is growing in brotherhood with my classmates and fellow seminarians. They have held me up in times of struggle, held me down in times of doubt, and helped me grow closer to Christ.”
The second was the parish work he has been able to participate in over the last few years, Deacon Pinaire said, “Particularly at the parish where I did my pastoral internship and the parish where I served as a deacon. These parish experiences have affirmed me in my vocation in ways I never expected they would.”
Fear not and trust God, he said to young men considering the seminary.
“If Christ is calling you to be his priest, there is no better means to find true and uncompromising happiness. Take the step toward seminary, give 150 percent to seminary life, and Christ will either show you the door or show you the priesthood. If he shows you the priesthood, you will be grateful you took that first step.”
The Rev. Mr. P.J. Voegeli
Deacon Voegeli, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita, said he has been “thinking of everything and nothing,” adding that he is trying, “not to get worked up about the details, and try not to break down when I think of what a mystery it is as per why God chose me.”
He said he will remember the fraternity of the seminary after his ordination. The many good men – and sour ones, too – who have formed him and prepared him to be a priest.
Those considering the priesthood should pray, pray pray hard, and spend time with different priests at various parishes.
Most importantly anyone thinking about the priesthood should try the seminary, Deacon Voegeli said. “If he is not called to the priesthood, God will make that clear and he can continue with his life a better man. If he is called, God will open the path to him as he strives to live the life God has called him to live. Better to try and not be called than to be called and never try.”
What is Holy Orders?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the church until the end of time.”
There are three degrees of holy orders: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate, more commonly understood as bishop, priest, and deacon. The diaconate can be broken down into two categories: permanent and transitional. Men studying for the priesthood are ordained transitional deacons. Permanent deacons can be married men, or single men who make a commitment to celibacy. Transitional deacons also make a commitment to celibacy.