Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Diocese Rejoices in Ordination of Four Men to the Priesthood

The Diocese of Harrisburg rejoiced in the ordination of four new priests on Saturday, June 1, at St. Patrick Cathedral, before a standing-room-only congregation of clergy, religious, family members, friends and laity.

Through the Laying on of Hands and the consecratory prayer that followed, Bishop Timothy Senior ordained Father Thomas Kappes, Father Richard McAlister, Father Michael Pray and Father Drew Tanguay to the presbyterate.

“In you, Jesus is fulfilling His promise again to be with us always, and in you we glimpse the promise for the future of the Church,” Bishop Senior told the men prior to celebrating the Rite of Ordination. “The life of the Church goes on, and you give us great hope.”

The new priests were given their first assignments during the Mass, which was shared via livestream on the Diocese’s YouTube page. Father Kappes has been assigned to St. Leo the Great Parish in Rohrerstown; Father McAlister to Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Harrisburg; Father Pray to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Gettysburg; and Father Tanguay to St. Catherine Labouré Parish in Harrisburg.

Laying Down Their Lives

Solemn and rich in symbolism, the Rite of Ordination commenced after the Liturgy of the Word, beginning with the four candidates being called forward and presented to Bishop Senior by Father Joshua Weaver, Diocesan Vocations Director.

The bishop, seated, then gave his homily, offering an instruction about the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

“Remember, brothers, that for the people entrusted to your care, you are indeed called to lead in the journey to holiness of life and ultimately to heaven, but with your people you are also walking on that journey, and with them, seeking yourself each day to grow in holiness of life,” Bishop Senior told the candidates.

Quoting a 2021 talk from Pope Francis on the Christian journey, he echoed the Holy Father’s words: “It’s beautiful when we find shepherds who walk with their people, who don’t separate themselves, (thinking,) ‘I am more important, I am a shepherd, I am a priest, I am a bishop,’ with their noses held high. No, shepherds who walk with their people — this is very beautiful…. Walking according to the Spirit is not only an individual task — it also concerns the community as a whole, which is exciting, but demanding.”

The bishop exhorted the candidates to remember that they have been taken from among the people for this ministry.

“To fulfill this mission, you must daily unite yourself to Jesus, in prayer and in the celebration of the sacraments, laying down your life with Him in obedience to the Father’s will,” Bishop Senior said.

Drawing on the Gospel passage proclaimed during the Mass, in which Jesus appears to the disciples in the Upper Room, the bishop remarked that when Jesus showed them His wounds, “It seems that perhaps He was showing them where He was leading them.”

“Brothers, you know this already. If you’re like me – and I suspect many of our priests who will soon welcome you into our presbyterate – your discernment and years of formation surely had moments of offering prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save you from this laying down of your life and becoming a priest. And in your life as a priest, you can expect to be asked by God to do so again and again,” he told the candidates.

Bishop Senior urged the men to “Strive to gather the faithful together into one family so that you may lead them to God, the Father, through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Entrust your life and ministry to Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of priests, who will watch over you and protect you. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, Who did not come to be served, but to serve, and Who came to seek and to save what was lost.

“Jesus says to you today, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you,’” he told them.

Following the homily, the four men, through a series of questions, declared their resolve to undertake their ministry and promised their obedience to the bishop and his successors. Then, they laid face-down on the floor in front of the altar as the full congregation chanted the Litany of Supplication, invoking the intercession of the saints on their behalf.

The essential part of the Ordination Rite followed, as Bishop Senior laid his hands on the heads of the men and prayed the Prayer of Ordination – the two elements through which the four men were ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Next, the new priests were vested with their stole and chasuble. In a gesture of unity and encouragement, all the priests present for the Mass placed their hands on the heads of the new priests, before the bishop anointed their hands with Sacred Chrism and presented them with a paten with bread and a chalice with wine.

The Rite concluded with the new priests exchanging a Sign of Peace with the bishop and with all the priests present.

Eager to Serve

An article that appeared in The Witness in late May features the vocation stories of the four new priests and their eagerness to serve.

Father Kappes, 32, is a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Harrisburg. He received his formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., after studying for a degree in Public Health and Occupational Safety at Indiana University.

Father McAlister, 33, is a member of the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick and received his formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. He entered the seminary a few years after entering the Catholic Church.

Father Pray, 39, worked as a teacher, administrator and coach for 10 years before entering Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. He is a native of St. Bernard Parish in New Bloomfield.

Father Tanguay, 26, is a member of Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Middletown. He received his formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, entering after high school graduation.

At the end of the Mass, while giving first blessings to members of the congregation lined up before them, Father McAlister and Father Tanguay shared sincere thoughts about what was on their mind and in their heart during the moment of ordination.

“It was just utter peace,” Father McAlister said. “I felt a sense of calm, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, who will lead and guide me.”

“The image of a crowning, receiving the Priestly Office, and a sense of the prayers of so many upon me,” said Father Tanguay. “I was overwhelmed with the responsibility that God has given me.”

Learn more about religious vocations in the Diocese at www.hbgdiocese.org/vocations.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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