By Jeff Grant

PHOENIX – In an ordination marked by decades-old Church tradition, poignant childhood stories, and glimpses into the candidates’ lives, the Diocese of Phoenix has welcomed two young men to the priesthood, the newest members of an ecclesiastical fraternity in this growing bishopric of 1.7 million Catholics whose recent expansion has been punctuated by its expanding Latino population.

Bishop John P. Dolan, in his first Ordination to the Priesthood since last August’s installation, presided Saturday in the Sacrament of Holy Orders administered to Dcns. Miguel Solis and Gabriel Sabado before a standing room only crowd at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.

Worshippers, including priests, seminarians, women religious and knights and dames of the Order of Malta; families and friends, and scores of lay members, filled the Cathedral’s pews. The gathering’s size marked a noticeable increase from the 2022 ordinations during the final year of the government’s national COVID emergency.

“It’s a great joy for us to celebrate the ordination of two wonderful men,” Bishop Dolan beamed as he opened the Mass, concelebrated by Aux. Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares and Dolan’s predecessor, Bishop emeritus Thomas J. Olmsted.

“What a joyful day it is for us as a local church here in the Diocese of Phoenix.” Bishop Dolan exclaimed.

Fr. Miguel, was assigned by Bishop Dolan as parochial vicar of St. Mary in Chandler, and Fr. Gabriel’s, who will fill the same role at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale, ordinations brings to 167 the number of Diocesan priests. The parochial vicar is the modern name for associate pastor. There are 37 seminarians in formation.


Saturday’s rite marked the end of a process for Fr. Miguel and Fr. Gabriel that began a number of years ago when each started discerning for the priesthood and continued with their formation through seminary and training.

“Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the sacrament (of Holy Orders) configures the person to Christ “as priest, teacher, and pastor,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraph 1585).

The Sacrament of Holy Orders has three degrees: the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate. Priests belong to the presbyterate. They are ordained to be co-workers of the bishops and an extension of their ministry.

In his Homily, Bishop Dolan recalled conversations with each man during their formation and urged them to remain true to principles learned along life’s path as effective ministers of Christ’s threefold mission.

“Gabriel, don’t forget the lessons taught by your family. As you teach, be patient with those who may have little knowledge of the Lord and be patient with those who struggle to understand God’s will and our Church’s teaching. Remember, you were there once, too.

In other words, remember who you were before you entered the seminary,” he counseled.
In a reference to the Mass’ First Reading, taken from the First Book of the Prophet Samuel, the bishop said, ”Remembering your roots is like King David having to recall how he was simply a shepherd in a field before he was called to be king.”

To Miguel, the bishop offered this advice.

“Remembering your roots, Miguel, means going back to that special time when you used to play priest as a child, or that moment in college when you had — in your words – ‘a huge conversion,’ or that moment when Bishop Nevares saw something in you, enough to send you to Father Paul Sullivan as a possible priestly candidate.

“Remember how you were inspired early on as a good listener. You shared with me this special gift that you received before you considered the seminary. This is a true sign that you were one with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd who listens to His sheep.”


The anecdotes added an element of poignancy matched perhaps only by the Litany of Supplication, that portion of the Rite of Ordination in which the candidates prostrate themselves as the congregation asks the saints to intercede for the new priests.

Prostration, or lying face-down before God, is an ancient posture showing both the donation by the candidate of their life to God and His Church, as well as supplication, which is asking God the grace to live his life for God and His Church.

As Miguel and Gabriel lay on the altar, the bishop knelt between them, facing the altar in prayer while the congregation sang the litany.
“During the Litany, I just closed my eyes, and it was as if I was one with the angels and saints,” said Fr. Gabriel’s mother, Faye Sabado, after Mass. “I thought, ‘How can I thank you, Lord?’ It was all by the grace of God.”

Fr. Gabriel recalled the moment.
“I thought, ‘OK, this is it. I’m a priest. Praise God.’ A lot of joy, a lot of peace filled my heart,” he said.

“That’s a very powerful moment,” noted lay member Christina Blanchard, a parishioner at San Francisco de Asis in Flagstaff, where she and her husband, Greg, a deacon, traveled from to witness the ordination.

“The community of saints is on our side, and I just think that invoking them is beautiful. It mirrors or reflects what we’re doing when we come together as a community here on Earth.”

Fr. Kurt Perera, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Phoenix, said that it’s natural to feel a sense of community at this time.
“These men were not called in isolation. It was very much a community (process). Their families, churches and priests were part of it. God was using others to help (these men) hear His voice.”

For the Blanchards and others, the sense of a large family gathering was real.
“I definitely feel the love of God, seeing all these people,” Fr. Miguel said following the Mass. “They didn’t come to see me, but to see what God has done in my life, and that’s priceless. That’s the greatest reward the Lord can give.”

“It’s a great gift to be here with all the family, friends, and all these parishioners, so (I’m) super-happy,” said Fr. Gabriel.

“It was just such a grace-filled time. I think, especially, since it was the first ordination with our new bishop, I felt like there was a real sense of community,” Christina Blanchard added.


Strong laity support for priests is vital, said Bishop Dolan during the Mass.
“Shepherding is hard work. It’s serious work, but you can’t do it alone. You do it under the Good Shepherd’s care and in communion with your bishop, priests and priestly people.
Rely on the Church to help you,” he said.
Laity echoed those thoughts.

“All of us are called to Jesus in one way or another, but the call to the priesthood is something very special and fundamental to our liturgical life. We have to support those young priests. It’s a difficult environment in the world, so they need all the help and support they can get.” said Patrick Markey, a 10-year resident of the Diocese and parishioner at St. Bernadette in Scottsdale.

“There is a natural tendency to place priests on a pedestal, but they’re human. Priests need prayer. We are consecrated from above to service, but that does not mean we are above everyone. We are human like everyone else. They, just like laity, can get tired, discouraged, feel joy or be moved by others’ suffering. (So) priests need prayer,” explained Msgr. Peter Dai Bui, the Diocese of Phoenix’s vicar for clergy.

The volume of support spoke to the new priests’ families, including Fr. Miguel’s sister, Ava Dominguez, who traveled from St. George Catholic Church in Ontario, Calif., and marveled at the line of worshippers, including many Latinos, that extended out of nearby Smith Hall and around its front after Mass, awaiting blessings from Fr. Gabriel and from her brother.
“You can see by the line, people love him and support him. I’m real happy. It’s a joy. I (almost) can’t explain it,” she said through an interpreter.

“God called him when he was small, and now it’s a reality.”
For at least one worshipper, the day was a reunion after many years.

Shirley Thompson traveled from her home in the Detroit suburb of Belleville, Mich. Then Dcn. Gabriel, who grew up in the area, had returned last November to visit his sister. While there, he went to St. Anthony Church, where me met Thompson, who, as it turns out, was once one of Sabado’s teachers.

“I didn’t know that until I met him during his visit,” she explained.
Learning Gabriel was in seminary and planning to become a priest, sealed Thompson’s decision to make the trip this June to see him ordained. As she spoke just before Mass, a smile on her face widened, her eyes watered slightly.

“I was crying this morning, thinking about this. I didn’t want to miss this. This is beautiful,” she said.