Mass honors priests celebrating jubilees

Father James Hackett, who celebrates his golden jubilee this year, read from the book of James during a Mass to honor priests celebrating 25, 50 and 60 years of ordination May 23 at the Cathedral of the Assumption. Father T. Michael Tobin, left, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz looked on. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

Priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville gathered May 23 at the Cathedral of the Assumption to honor seven fellow priests celebrating jubilees.

The annual liturgy, celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, honored priests marking 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of ordination.

Father Jeff Nicolas, who celebrated his 25th anniversary and delivered the homily, read a card given to him by a fellow priest after his ordination. In the card, this brother priest prayed that God would be “enough” in the good times and the bad. In the past 25 years that prayer has been answered, Father Nicolas said. “I can witness to you that God has been enough.”

Father Nicolas also shared three insights that he said were born from the “good times and the bad times, the crosses and blessings” of being a priest for 25 years.

The first, he said, is something he has come to believe in his “core.” In Jesus Christ, the solution to every problem “has already been set in motion.” Individuals just “have
to wait for it and trust that it’s coming.”

The second insight, Father Nicolas shared was learning trust. This insight came from a fear of preaching he experienced as a new priest, he said. He didn’t trust he’d always have something to say. Over the years, he said, he learned to trust that he’d always be given something to preach about. Lately, he has allowed that sense of trust to guide him in situations of conflict, Father Nicolas said.

The third insight is based on a nugget of wisdom given to him by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz — to always “presume the good.” Father Nicolas told his brother priests this is a lesson he’s still “working on,” but he’s realized that when he presumes the good, especially in situations of tension, the outcome is better.

No matter what happens over the next 25 years, he’s certain God will be there working in his life, he added.

“I’m not a nostalgic man, but I’ve learned to recognize God’s fingerprints,” said Father Nicolas.

Father Nicolas was ordained Aug. 7, 1993, and served as pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption, St. Lawrence and Epiphany churches. He currently serves as pastor of St. Bernadette Church.

In addition to Father Nicolas, the following priests were recognized:

60 years

Dominican Father Emmanuel Bertrand was ordained June 5, 1958. Father Bertrand served as a missionary in Pakistan for 25 years. He also served for three years in Kenya. In the U.S. Father Bertrand served in parochial ministry in Ohio and at St. Louis Bertrand Church. He resides at St. Joseph Home for the Aged.

Passionist Father Sebastian MacDonald was ordained May 31, 1958. Father MacDonald served as provincial of Holy Cross province and as a professor at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He was assigned to the Sacred Heart Monastery in Louisville in October 2016.

Father Robert E. Reilly was ordained May 31, 1958. He served as pastor of the old St. George and Our Lady churches. He also served as associate pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Holy Trinity, St. Aloysius in Pewee Valley, Ky., St. Athanasius and Holy Spirit churches. He retired in 2004.

50 years

Father James F. Hackett was ordained May 18, 1968, and served as a teacher at the former Bishop David High School and as chaplain at the University of Louisville. Father Hackett also served as pastor of St. Leonard, St. Raphael and Our Mother of Sorrows churches. He retired in 2012.

25 years

Conventual Franciscan Father Conrad Sutter was ordained May 8, 1993. Father Sutter serves as chaplain of Norton Hospital. He will complete his term as sacramental moderator of St. Augustine and St. Martin de Porres churches in June. Father Sutter also serves on the Priests’ Council of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Father T. Michael Tobin was ordained Aug. 7, 1993, and served as pastor of Our Lady of Mercy and St. Ann churches. He currently serves as pastor of St. John Chrysostom Church in Eminence, Ky., and Annunciation Church in Shelbyville, Ky., where he ministers to members of the Hispanic community.

Jubilarians, from left, Father Jeffrey Nicolas, Passionist Father Sebastian MacDonald and Dominican Father Emmanuel Bertrand concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz May 23 at the Cathedral of the Assumption. Fathers MacDonald and Bertrand celebrated their 60th anniversaries. Father Nicolas was one of three marking 25 years as priests. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)
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