Rain and chilly temperatures gave way to a beautiful spring day on May 18 as the ordination Mass began at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland.
The cathedral was filled to overflowing with family members and friends of the nine men who were ordained by Bishop Nelson Perez. Dozens of priests, including pastors of the ordinandi and seminary faculty, permanent deacons and fellow seminarians also attended and/or participated in the liturgy.
“God is good all the time and all the time God is good. He has been so good to the Church of Cleveland to the Church universal. This is a great day of blessing and a great day of joy,” Bishop Perez told those assembled.
Concelebrating bishops included Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries of Cleveland; Bishop emeritus Martin Amos of Davenport, Iowa; Bishop emeritus James Griffin of Columbus, uncle of newly ordained Father Martin Dober; and Auxiliary Bishop John Bosco Shinho Chang of Daegu, South Korea. Bishop emeritus Anthony Pilla of Cleveland, who is marking the 60th anniversary of his ordination this month, was in attendance.
Other concelebrants included Abbot Gary Hoover, OSB; Father Felix Gyeong-il Nah, newly ordained Father John Jeong’s pastor from Daegu; Father Mark Latcovich, president-rector of Borromeo and Saint Mary seminaries; Father Don Oleksiak, moderator of the curia; Father Dan Schlegel, secretary and vicar for clergy and religious; and Father Gary Yanus, vicar general. Provincials for the Congregation of St. Joseph also concelebrated.
Seven of the newly ordained priests will serve the Diocese of Cleveland: Father Joshua Trefney, Father Dober, Father Daniel Samide, Father David Stavarz, Father Kevin Fox, Father Michael Petkosek and Father Andrew Gonzalez.
Father John Jeong will serve the Archdiocese of Daegu, South Korea and Father Francisco Garnica, CSJ will serve the Congregation of St. Joseph.
Assignments for the newly ordained diocesan priests are: Father Trefney, St. Albert the Great, North Royalton; Father Stavarz, St. Gabriel, Concord; Father Samide, St. Anthony of Padua, Parma; Father Petkosek, St. Columbkille, Parma; Father Gonzalez, Holy Family, Stow; Father Fox, St. Bernadette, Westlake; and Father Dober, St. John Vianney, Mentor.
In his homily, Bishop Perez told the ordination class that the day was not about them choosing what they wanted to do. Instead, he said it was about doing what the Lord asked of us by ordaining them. He reminded them that their vocations took root in the heart of their parish communities. The bishop also reflected on what he called “the wonderful culture of vocations in the Church of Cleveland.” He said the diocese is among the top five for homegrown vocations, something very unusual.
In fact, one parish – St. Mary, Hudson – is marking its seventh consecutive year of having a parishioner ordained. Bishop Perez noted that St. Mary parishioner Sue Samide, mother of Father Daniel Samide, who was ordained this year, and Father Richard Samide, who was ordained last year, wanted to immortalize the day so she had a T-shirt created with the names of each St. Mary parishioner who was ordained since 2013 – including her sons.
The bishop also offered some words of wisdom from Pope Francis to the newly ordained priests:
- The strength of a priest depends on his relationship with Christ.
- A priest must be close to the people he serves.
- A priest’s authority must be linked to service.
- A priest must be a minister of mercy.
- The priest is called to simplicity of life.
- The priest must be a model of integrity.
- The priest is to be a source of blessing to his people.
“These snippets of advice are for you as you begin this incredible, unbelievable journey of serving the Lord as a priest. We are blessed by your ordination and you’re so blessed to be called a priest,” Bishop Perez said.
The ordination included election of the candidates, promise of the elect, the litany of supplication during which those being ordained were prostrate around the altar, laying on of hands, prayer of ordination, investiture with stole and chasuble, anointing of hands and the handing over of the bread and wine.
The new diocesan priests celebrated their first Masses during the weekend and will begin their service as parochial vicars at their assigned parishes next month.
For more information, including the parents and home parishes of the newly ordained, a link to the Facebook image gallery of ordination Mass photos, links to brief videos of each ordinand and to view an archived video of the ordination Mass, click HERE.
Call the diocesan vocation office, 440-943-7660 or visit clepriesthood.org for more information on priestly vocations.