Two is a key number to keep in mind for the 2019 ordination season in the Diocese of Phoenix.

The faithful will see two ordination Masses within one week and two men ordained at each. Both are at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.


Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral

6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix

Priesthood Ordination

10 a.m., June 1
(Holy Hour Vigil: 6:30 p.m., May 31)

Transitional Diaconate Ordination

9 a.m. (TV Mass), May 26


Expect some key differences, however: the May 26 Mass is for the transitional diaconate — Phoenix seminarians en route to priesthood — while the June 1 ordination is for priesthood. Options for attending vary, too.

Parishioners who regularly attend the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass at the cathedral will attend the first ordination as will each ordinand’s family and likely some of their prayer warriors. Many more will join worldwide via the Mass’s weekly livestream and televised capabilities. The livestream easily draws in more than 1,000 views.

The pair drawing closest to priesthood will likely see a standing room only crowd. Family members, priests, religious, Knights and Dames of Malta, Serrans and others will occupy specially designated pews. Laity who have encountered the ordinands at various summer assignments over the years and those who simply love witnessing the graces of ordination day will fill the rest and/or follow on social media.

“There is no overestimating the power of intercession the laity have for their ministers. I think all of us priests can recognize that we are being carried by the prayers of the faithful people who we minster to and, who so often, live in profound union with the Lord and love for His sacraments,” said Fr. Paul Sullivan, director of vocations. He encouraged the lay faithful to “pray for the purification of the hearts of all priests and for abundant laborers” in the Diocese of Phoenix.

The newest crop of priests — among 481 nationally — arrive at their ordination day with markedly different paths of formation behind them. Dcn. Christopher Gossen is fresh from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver where local seminarians have studied since the 2005-2006 school year, and he will be ordained for a diocese that is amid its 50th jubilee.

Br. Peter Teresa McConnell, FHS, is fresh from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and is the first Franciscan Friar of the Holy Spirit to graduate from there. He is also the final of the seven founding members of his religious community established in 2016 under the auspices of the Diocese of Phoenix to become a priest.

Estevan Wetzel (Courtesy of the Diocese of Phoenix Office of Vocations)
Kevin Penkalski (Courtesy of the Diocese of Phoenix Office of Vocations)

Upon priestly ordination, both will take on parochial vicar roles at area parishes. The forthcoming transitional deacons will spend the summer serving in the Diocese of Phoenix. From there, Kevin Penkalski will return to Denver for his final year of formation while Estevan Wetzel will serve as the house deacon at the forthcoming Nazareth House Seminary House of Formation in the Diocese of Phoenix and assist at Sacred Heart Parish.

Fr. Sullivan said Penkalski and Wetzel have proved themselves over the years and grown tremendously as men of God. He also described their docility to the Lord and his confidence that it will translate into docility to the Lord in the midst of ministry to His people. As deacons, they can proclaim and preach the Gospel at Mass, baptize people and preside over marriages and burials.

Br. Peter Teresa McConnell, FHS, and Christopher Gossen pose after their respective 2018 ordinations as a transitional deacon. They will be ordained priests June 1.

First Masses

Fr. Peter Teresa, FHS

6 p.m., June 1
St. John the Baptist, Laveen

Fr. Christopher Gossen

11 a.m., June 2
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Scottsdale


Dcn. Gossen said parish life as an ordained minister has prepared him for priesthood.

“The biggest grace has come in Baptisms. I have been able to teach a few Baptism classes and bring five children into the Church. Each time I get to do the sacrament, wonder and awe comes over me, and that feeling never changes,” Dcn. Gossen said. “God working though me is amazing and I can’t wait to see what other experiences come when I can give all the sacraments.

For now, he is focusing on prayerfully soaking up the special sacrament he will receive June 1.

“In my heart there is a lot of peace and amazement that the Lord would choose me for this great ministry,” said Dcn. Gossen.