It’s ordination season: that time of year when Catholic media reporters get to meet the newest class of men ready to devote their entire lives to serving others along their journey toward heaven.
I always enjoy the annual class report from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. It concisely helps us meet our nation’s newest priests via their education, family and work experience. For example, most studied a social science before entering seminary and thought about the priesthood in their elementary years. Such tidbits help me feel connected.
In a recent interview with Fr. Joseph Bui — not a new ordinand, but the incoming pastor of St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale has a worthy vocation story — I learned that every child in his household lead consecrated lives. His brother is a priest in California and his two sisters are with different religious orders in Las Vegas and St. Paul, Minn. There are three bishops in the family who all serve in Vietnam.
In less than two weeks, three more local families will be able to have a priestly connection following the ordination of three men to the priesthood at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. Similar ordinations are taking place across the country most of this month.
Besides the Catholic faith, see what else connects you to our nation’s newest priests:
- Are you a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Ss. Simon and Jude or Corpus Christi? Then you’re from one of the same parishes as the Diocese of Phoenix’s newest priests. Read their mini bios on the Office of Vocations website — this year’s ordinands are the top three — then get a full interview with them in our June 19 issue.
Did you serve in the Navy? So did soon-to-be Fr. Keith Kenney. It’s a fact he shared in the Class of 2014 ordinand survey‘s “People might be surprised to know….” question. He represents 25% of new diocesan priests. An equal amount served in the Marines.
- Have you ever given a gift to a newly ordained priest? Then you’ll love reading “Recycled Chalices.” The blogpost recounts how some newly ordained Holy Cross priests graciously receive a used chalice as an ordination gift.
- Have you ever used the phrase YOLO? Then you’d be proud of Fr. Bradley Zamora in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It’s the name of his seminarian band who put religious context into popular secular music. They hope the name appeals to teens and young adults who use “YOLO” as an excuse to act contrary to the Church. “We say you only live once, so go out and preach the Gospel!”
- Are you a twin? So are Fathers Todd and Gary Koenigsknecht in the Diocese of Lansing. Their similar DNA certainly helps them think alike at times. They separately told their parents about their priestly calling. It was mom and dad who called the boys into a room together to break the news. The identical twins (scroll here for photo) will serve parishes about an hour apart (get their full vocation story and that of 42 others among two neighboring villages).
Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners in Scottsdale won’t have twins priests serving them, but they do have identical names: effective July 1 they will have two Fr. Gregs serving the parish.
- Have you ever spoken to a chaplain? Three newly ordained priests in the Diocese of Arlington, Va. and one in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis are well on their way to becoming military chaplains (bios). They are among 13 prospective chaplains to be ordained priests or transitional deacons — signifying the start of their final year of priestly formation — this year. After at least three years of priestly ministry, these men can serve on active duty as a military chaplain for the Archdiocese for the Military Services.
There are 19 men in the Jesuit ordination Class of 2014. They will join our Holy Father and nearly 17,000 priests and brothers worldwide, including seven who serve at St. Francis Xavier and Brophy College Preparatory. Even though none of them will be headed to Phoenix, you may have something in common with at least one of them:
- Have you ever read TheJesuitPost.org? Two of the order’s newest priests co-founded it. The website examines the intersection of faith and culture. Meet Jesuit Fathers Samuel Sawyer and Eric Sundrup.
- Are you Vietnamese? Then you have something in common with three men being ordained a Jesuit priest this month and four percent of all new priests this year (the second highest of foreign born priests behind Mexico, which is at six percent).
One of them, Jesuit Father Joseph Dao — a former journalist — is returning to Vietnam for pastoral work. His first year of priesthood will be memorable. The Jesuits in Vietnam are marking 400 years of ministry in the country.
By the way, if you want to see what a Vietnamese church looks like, visit Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Phoenix. It’s home to 618 families.
- Are you a Marquette University or Boston College alum? Then you might know Jesuit Fathers Nathan Wendt, 35, or Christopher Johnson, 50. Fr. Wendt studied communications at Marquette. Fr. Johnson completed his Master of Divinity degree at Boston College while leading retreats for the homeless.
- Are you sending your student to Seattle University or Creighton University? Perhaps you will run into Jesuit Father Quentin Dupont. The 34-year-old France native will teach finance at Seattle University.
You might find Fr. John Shea‘s name on your syllabus at Creighton. He will be teaching an unnamed subject there. The 39-year-old is no stranger to university work. Fr. Shea taught biology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and served as a deacon at the University of California, Berkeley.
Curious about other vocation stories? Meet two new Dominican priests who share them: