By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Family, friends, clergy and consecrated persons sang “O God, Beyond All Praising” with palpable joy, following the ordination of two priests and two deacons as the priests’ parents brought the gifts of bread and wine to the altar.
“You could feel the connection between heaven and earth,” said Michelle Snyder, mother of newly ordained Father Benjamin Snyder. She felt deeply moved hearing everyone sing the hymn.
The Liturgy of Ordination celebrated June 4 at Sacred Heart Cathedral was a symphony of grace during which Bishop Thomas Zinkula ordained Fathers Snyder and Dale Mallory and Deacons Isaac Doucette and Duoc (Dominic) Hoang Nguyen.
Nearly 60 priests concelebrated the Mass. Among the 17 deacons in attendance, one served as a Master of Ceremonies and two assisted Bishop Zinkula at the altar. Deacon candidates preparing for ordination next month and seminarians also assisted at the altar. Twelve members of the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree served as honor guards. Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Vietnamese Choir sang the prelude and the diocesan choir, along with cantors Emily Pries and Paul Temple, led the faithful in song.
A sense of closeness permeated the cathedral as the faithful celebrated the four men’s commitment of service to the Church. Bishop Zinkula chose four pillars of closeness important in the priesthood and diaconate as the focus of his homily, inspired by an address that Pope Francis gave earlier this year to an International Theological Symposium on the Priesthood.
Closeness in ministry
He identified the four pillars as closeness to God, closeness to the bishop, closeness to other priests and deacons and closeness to the people. “These are fundamental to the life of a cleric because they imitate God’s own style, which is essentially a style of closeness.”
Prayer is essential for clerics to cultivate closeness and intimacy with God, the bishop said. “Prayer is sitting in the presence of God’s love. Without a meaningful relationship with the Lord, a cleric’s ministry will be fruitless. Closeness to God prepares the priest and deacon for closeness to the people of God. From this relationship, they will be able to draw all the strength they need for their ministry.”
Closeness to the bishop is expressed in the priest or deacon’s promise of obedience to the bishop at ordination. To obey the bishop means to “learn how to listen and to remember that no one ‘owns’ God’s will, which must be understood only through discernment. Obedience is thus attentive listening to the will of God, which is discerned in a bond, a relationship with others. A listening attitude and closeness to one’s bishop and to others enables a cleric to conquer all temptations to closemindedness, self-justification and living our lives as ‘bachelors.’ Instead, it invites us to listen to others in order to find the way that leads to truth and life. The bishop is for each cleric and for every diocese a bond and an instrument that helps discern the will of God.”
Communion with the bishop opens up the third pillar of closeness, to fraternity with other clerics. “Fraternity means deliberately choosing to pursue holiness together with others, not by oneself. As an African proverb says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.’”
Regarding the fourth pillar, closeness to the people of God, Bishop Zinkula quotes Pope Francis. “Our relationship [as priests & deacons] with the holy people of God is for each of us not a duty but a grace. Loving others is a special force drawing us in union with God.” Jesus wants clerics “to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others.” Citing his encyclical, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said, “To be evangelizers of souls we need to develop a spiritual taste for being close to people’s lives and to discover that it itself is a source of greater joy.” The people of God seek “shepherds filled with compassion, courageous men ready to draw near to those who are in pain and lending a helping hand.”
These four pillars of closeness are “a gift that God gives priests and deacons to keep their vocation alive and fruitful,” the bishop said.
Liturgy of Ordination
After his homily, each of the ordinands made his promise to the bishop. The deacons-elect promised faithful service, obedience and life-long celibacy as ordained ministers of the Catholic Church. The priests-elect promised faithful service in caring for the Lord’s flock and obedience to the bishop as ordained ministers of the Catholic Church. The Litany of Supplication followed, during which the elect prostrated themselves and the gathering asked for the intercession of the saints on behalf of the elect and the needs of all.
Then, Bishop Zinkula laid hands on the head of each of the deacons-elect and prayed for the gift of the Holy Spirit and for the grace for each one to carry out his ministry. Deacon Derick Cranston vested Deacon-elect Doucette and Father Bruce DeRammelaere vested Deacon-elect Nguyen. Bishop Zinkula handed each new deacon the Book of the Gospels, praying, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
Bishop Zinkula prayed the prayer of supplication and then laid hands on each priest-elect. All of the priests, one by one, then laid hands on the two candidates for the priesthood as the assembly sang “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” (“Come Holy Spirit”). Then, the bishop prayed the Prayer of Ordination over the two men, invoking that same Spirit of holiness.
Father Andrew Rauenbuehler vested Father Mallory with stole and chasuble and Father Charles Fladung vested Father Snyder. Bishop Zinkula anointed the hands of each new priest with sacred chrism. Then, the bishop handed each of them the bread and wine, praying: “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”
The bishop shared the sign of peace with the newly ordained. Then all of the deacons exchanged the sign of peace with the new deacons and the priests exchanged the sign of peace with the new priests.
The newly ordained
Father Mallory said exchanging the sign of peace with his fellow priests was the most impactful moment of the liturgy for him. “You feel the fraternity … welcome to the priesthood and welcome to the diocese,” he said. He felt at peace during Mass, knowing “We’re all here, Christ is here.”
For Father Snyder, the laying on of hands was the biggest moment of the liturgy. It brought to mind the closeness of the priesthood that Bishop Zinkula spoke about in his homily, the new priest said. During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as he stood at the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, “I felt different,” he said. “It’s real, now it’s real,” he thought to himself.
Deacon Doucette felt at peace during the Litany of the Saints, “knowing that everyone was praying for me,” and said the highlight of the liturgy for him was making his promise of obedience. As he anticipates ordination to the priesthood next year, he said, “In one sense, we’ve advanced to a big threshold (himself and Deacon Nguyen). We’ve made our promises.”
Deacon Nguyen said that during the Litany of the Saints, “I felt like I had a whole army of saints and Blessed Mary to help me. I’m sure they will be praying for me. I’m ready for the mission.”
Father John Lamansky, ordained four years ago, said the laying on of hands is a particularly moving moment of every ordination Mass for him. During this liturgy, “When I was laying hands on the ordinands, I was praying for a holy life and a fruitful ministry,” he said.
Bill and Jane Doucette, Deacon Doucette’s parents, are grateful their son has responded to God’s call to discern a vocation to the priesthood. “He’s ready to serve,” Bill Doucette said. Jane said she cries at every ordination Mass but became more teary-eyed during this one after glancing over at her 90-year-old father and seeing him tear up.
LuAnn Glaser, wife of Deacon Bob Glaser, said the Liturgy of Ordination was a beautiful mix of songs, prayers and rituals. “It was apropos to what we were there for and what these newly ordained priests and deacons will be doing from here on out.”