Judging by the crowd that filled the Cathedral of the Assumption May 30 to overflowing, the three men ordained priests that day have, at the very least, two things going for them.
First, they’ve obviously touched the lives of hundreds of people already. They’ve connected to people in the parishes where they served as seminarians and deacons. That’s a great way to begin a ministry that hinges on the ability to accompany people.
Secondly, they have the support of hundreds of faith-filled Catholics who are praying for their success as pastors — and possibly helping them in other ways, as well.
Father Jason Harris, a former middle school math teacher, is now serving parishioners of the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky., and St. Michael Church in Fairfield, Ky., as their associate pastor.
Father Peter Bucalo, formerly a well-known local radio host, is now assigned to serve the people of Holy Spirit Church as their associate pastor.
And parishioners of three parishes — St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., St. Ambrose Church in Cecilia, Ky., and St. Ignatius Church in White Mills, Ky. — will benefit from the service of their associate pastor, Father Shayne Duvall, whose previous work has included announcing for the Louisville Bats and teaching theology at Holy Cross High School.
These men have lived in the world — spent plenty of time in pews with the rest of us — and now are committing their lives to service.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz urged the three priests at the ordination to place love at the center of their ministry.
As an artist communicates the beauty of God’s creation, he told them, priests should communicate God’s love.
The new priests began this work of sharing God’s love moments after the ordination liturgy ended in a tangible way. As the congregation flowed out of the cathedral’s front doors, worshippers lined up — spilling into the gutters of South Fifth Street — to receive blessings from Fathers Harris, Bucalo and Duvall.
It was a rather spectacular site to see all those people, smiling and giddy under a bright sunny sky, waiting for a blessing from the new priests.
One hopes the new priests and the parishioners who love them can hold on to that joy and enthusiasm for years to come.
Pope Francis, who visited American seminarians (including a few from the Archdiocese of Louisville) at the North American College in Rome May 2, prayed, “May a powerful gust of holiness sweep through the Americas.”
He noted that the 16th-century Spanish missionary Blessed Junipero Serra, who will be canonized when the pope visits the United States in September, is part of a long line of holy men and women who preached and lived the Gospel of charity in the Americas,” according to a Catholic News Service story.
“There has been holiness in America — much holiness,” Pope Francis said.
He also noted that the lives of missionaries can serve as challenges for people today.
“I wonder if today we are able to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy?” Pope Francis asked.
He prayed that, “the life of our American continent may be rooted ever more deeply in the Gospel it has received; that Christ may be ever more present in the lives of individuals, families, peoples and nations, for the greater glory of God.
“We pray, too, that this glory may be manifested in the culture of life, brotherhood, solidarity, peace and justice, with a preferential and concrete love for the poor,” he said.
Let’s add to these our own prayers for the wellbeing and holiness of our three new priests and all of the priests of the archdiocese who have dedicated their lives to sharing God’s love.