Five ordained to priesthood, diaconate
Bishop Carl A. Kemme told the two newly ordained priests that the clergy face challenging times, but not hopeless times.
“We who are priests are never alone as long as we place ourselves each day in front of the tabernacles of our churches and chapels, hopefully on our knees, like our holy patron, St. John Vianney did so faithfully for his entire priesthood,” he said, adding that the saint was never far from the true source of his strength and power.
May the same be true for all of the diocesan priests, Bishop Kemme said.
“Let us preside at the most supreme sacrifice each day, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, taking in our sinful but nevertheless consecrated hands the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, with the full conviction that we stand with him, the crucified and Risen Lord, who mystically stands with us in all our trials and sufferings.”
The comments were directed to the newly ordained priests, Father Drew Dellasega and Father Matt Siegman, in addition to their brother priests who filled the sanctuary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for the ordination Saturday morning, May 25.
Bishop Kemme ordained three to diaconate
Two days earlier Bishop Kemme ordained three men to the transitional diaconate: the Rev. Messrs. Trevor Buster, Hayden Charles, and Luke Downing. They are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood next May.
After thanking the families of the men ordained priests and others involved in their formation, the Bishop talked about how he had pondered how the newly ordained were offering their lives at a time when the Catholic Church is in great distress.
“I stand as one among the many, inspired and encouraged by their willingness to embrace this profoundly challenging ministry in these turbulent years of the early 21st century. For me, for them, and for most of us, it does feel as though the boat that is the church is sailing in stormy times,” he said.
But the early church had similar, if not worse challenges, Bishop said.
“For this reason, the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy to stir into flame the gift of God bestowed upon him during the laying on of hands. The gift he was given is the same gift bestowed upon these, our new priests, during the laying on of my hands, no cowardly spirit but rather one of power, love and self-control.”
Like those in the early church, he said, bishops and priests need to be bold, courageous, fearless, humble and loving in their ministries.
Bishop Kemme said he is asking all of his brother priests to bear their share of hardship for the Gospel.
“In the midst of our current day challenges, I, your bishop, cannot guarantee you an easy, safe, comfortable, and carefree ministry. Would that I could. I can guarantee you this: that we will, in fact, bear this burden for the Gospel and because of the Gospel.”
No better time to be a priest
Even with all of the challenges the new priests face, Bishop Kemme said there is no better time to be a priest.
“In his providence, God has called and chosen us to be here at this moment and in this place, to do all we must to reclaim our priestly dignity, to live, to preach, and to teach the truth of the Gospel, so that we all will know what it means to be fully alive in Christ as his missionary disciples.”
Bishop Kemme told the trio ordained to the transitional diaconate that he has spent most of his public ministry desiring to be a better preacher.
Good preaching builds strong faith and inspires great discipleship, he said.
“Preaching the Word of God has been, is, and always will be an important and indispensable part of the ministry of the ordained deacon, priest or bishop.”
Although it is challenging to identify the elements of a great homily, Bishop Kemme told the deacons, “it is more the case that we know one when we hear one.”
After sharing a story of listening incognito to a homily last year from an elderly priest, he said he initially didn’t think he would hear a very good homily. “I was proven wrong. The priest delivered what I would consider a great homily.”
One reason was because the priest was able to get and keep everyone’s attention, although he was not the center of attention, Bishop Kemme said.
“One of the desires I have in my own preaching is to leave people something to chew on, to think about, and this preacher certainly did that for me, so much so that I even remember his closing line. All of these qualities, it seems to me, must necessarily be present for a homily to be good, to be great.”
Without good preparation, “our preaching risks being empty and fruitless,” he said, encouraging the deacons to prayerfully prepare their homilies and make preaching one of their highest priorities.
“Our preaching must be done with less mirth and more message, resisting shallow and thoughtless efforts, but offering more depth, more spiritual meat and potatoes, because, if my sense is correct, our people hunger for that which will touch their minds and hearts and inflame their love and passion for Jesus Christ.”