Archbishop Fabre urges new priests to hold on to their sense of awe and wonder

A standing-room-only crowd witnessed the ordination of five men to the priesthood of the Archdiocese of Louisville June 1 at St. Michael Church in Jeffersontown.

During a morning Mass, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre ordained Father Matthew H. Millay, Father Kenneth B. Nauert Jr., Father Michael L. Schultz, Father Van D. Tran and Father Yen Van Tran.

The men, who were ordained to the transitional diaconate a year ago, processed into the church with the deacons of the archdiocese and then took seats in the pews surrounded by family and friends.

The liturgy began with a greeting from the archbishop, who also recognized the families of Fathers Van Tran and Yen Tran, who were watching the live stream of the ordination from their homes in Vietnam. His greeting was translated into Vietnamese and several other aspects of the Mass were in Vietnamese.

Before the Rite of Ordination, Archbishop Fabre spoke directly to the ordinands, saying, “I hope my reflections in this homily will help you as you embark into the deep waters of priestly ministry.”

Noting the adage, “familiarity breeds contempt,” the archbishop said that when something becomes too familiar, it’s easy to “lose our sense of awe and wonder.”

“Priests, too, can become too familiar with the call of God given to them and too familiar with the grace of ordination,” he said. “Priests can become complacent and, sadly, even cynical, which often leads most tragically to their self-imposed isolation.”

He asked the ordinands to consider: “How can you positively hold onto the zeal you feel right now?”

Archbishop Fabre provided four tips to help them, which he said were presented by Pope Francis in a speech he gave to priests in 2022.

  • “Remember that it is not my priesthood. It is the priesthood of Jesus Christ. We all share in Jesus’ priesthood. We seek to serve those entrusted to our pastoral care in the name of the Lord,” he said. “You are set apart today and anointed by the Holy Spirit to draw close to the people of God and to enhance God’s presence in their lives through your ministry.”
  • “The second way of standing in awe always before your service … is to recognize that ordained life and its mission cannot be lived independently or cut off from your brother priests,” said Archbishop Fabre. “Diocesan priestly fraternity … must be a personal deliberate decision and a choice to pursue holiness with other priests.”
  • Closeness to the bishop is the next item. “Obedience to the bishop … is not about the power of one person over another but has at its heart an authentic concern for the portion of the Lord’s vineyard where we, as priests and bishops together, are to provide pastoral ministry.” Archbishop Fabre shared his desire “to be close and assist them in their pastoral ministry.”
  • “The fourth, final and most crucial thing that guards against contempt is closeness to God,” he said. “Dear brothers to be ordained, without a close, vulnerable intimacy with the Lord, everything else that I mentioned is impossible. … You must always choose to be close to the Lord.” 

Archbishop Fabre concluded by thanking the men “for their ‘yes’ to the Lord.”

Noting that he will mark the 35th anniversary of his ordination as a priest in August, he told the men, “I pray that your priesthood will bring you even more grace than the abundance of grace my time and service to the Lord has brought to my life.”

“I always stand ready to help you,” he added, “in any way that I can.”

The new priests have been given the following assignments:

Father Millay, 28, associate pastor of Holy Spirit and St. Leonard churches. 

Father Nauert, 28, canon law studies at The Catholic University of America School of Law in Washington, D.C. His summer residence will be St. Rita Church.

Father Schultz, 26, associate pastor of St. Albert the Great Church

Father Van Tran, 35, associate pastor of St. Michael Church.

Father Yen Tran, 35, associate pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church.

Marnie McAllister
Written By
Marnie McAllister
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