The joy in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist was palpable on May 20 as six men were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Edward Malesic.
“I’ve never ordained six men to the priesthood before and I’ve never seen the cathedral as crowded as this,” he said as the Mass began.
Five of the new priests were ordained for service to the Diocese of Cleveland.
Father David Theodore Chojnacki of St. Mary Parish, Hudson, is the son of Peter and Jean Chojnacki of Hudson.
Father Dominic Francis Gideon of Communion of Saints Parish, Cleveland Heights, is the son of Victor and Antoinette Gideon of Cleveland Heights.
Father Ian William Kelly of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Parma, is the son of Michelle and the late David Kelly of Parma.
Father Jeffrey Stephen Liptak of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Parma, is the son of John and Mary Liptak of Parma Heights.
And Father Christopher Daniel Stein of Immaculate Conception Parish, Madison, is the son of Daniel and Kimberly Stein of Ashtabula.
Ordained for the Archdiocese of Daegu, South Korea was Father Duckhyun (Fabian) Han of St. Andrew Kim Parish, Cleveland, son of Seungkook Han and Hyun Suk Kim of South Korea.
Hundreds of people in United States, Rome, South Korea and beyond watched the livestream of the liturgy.
“We expect you to walk with the sheep,” Bishop Edward Malesic told the new priests in his homily. “Know that the work is worth it, and for those of us called to it, it is fulfilling a well as demanding. Still, I always recommend having a bottle of aspirin nearby,” he quipped.
The bishop reminded the new priests that parish communities are families of faith that will call them by a new title: Father. It will seem odd at first, but they will grow accustomed to it. “But don’t require your parents to use it when you go home to visit them – which you should,” he said, in a good-natured way. “You will always be their sons,” he added. Friends calling them by their given names will help keep them grounded, the bishop said.
“You won’t lose your humanity today, even as you are about to receive special sacramental character that will consecrate you as priests for eternity,” he said.
The bishop also offered this advice: “For as long as you are able, have the joy of new fathers in your heart. Be like the man who holds his newborn child for the first time and is grateful for the gift. Be grateful for the gift of your priesthood.”
He also encouraged them to be “filled with awe” when they hold the paten of consecrated bread and the chalice of consecrated wine at their first Mass of thanksgiving. “It will almost seem surreal, because it is, as well as sublime.”
The bishop reminded the newly ordained that they were chosen by Christ to love him and his Church as priests. But he also cautioned them that like new fathers, there is much to learn. He encouraged them to seek help from experienced pastors, brother priests, deacons, staff, knowledgeable laypersons and women. “Of course, the best mother to listen to is Mary, who is the mother of priests,” he said, noting they should seek her advice and intercessory help, especially under her title of Mary, undoer of knots. “Try not to make too many knots of your own for her to untie. She’ll appreciate it,” he added.
At times, their ministry will be frustrating, so patience will be needed, the bishop said. “But always be like a forgiving father, like the father of the prodigal son. Be generous with God’s mercy.”
He also cautioned them never to use the priesthood for any selfish motive or to satisfy their own egos. “And always remember, you cannot truly be a good father in the Church without first being a son. Always strive for a more intimate sonship with God through prayer and meditation. And, after that, always be a son of the Church.”
When asked why they chose the priesthood, Bishop Malesic said it’s because he – and they – discerned a call to the priesthood from God who cannot be ignored. “The Church is choosing you because we have discerned that call to be authentic.”
He also told the newly ordained, “As talented as you are, you are still only earthen vessels to be used for God’s purposes, instruments used by the hand of God … We all want to set the world on fire with our energy, knowledge and special gifts. But remember, the fire you have is from God. It comes from him. You can only give what you have received. Stay close to the fire of God and he will keep you ablaze with priestly zeal.”
They also need to take time to recharge, the bishop said, and should do as his motto says, “Serve the Lord with gladness. To serve with joy requires having he energy to do it,” he added.
And he had this final bit of advice: “Strive to bring the faithful together into one family. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”
The rite of ordination included election of the candidates, promise of the elect, the litany of supplication – during which the six men lay on the cathedral floor – laying on of hands, prayer of ordination, investiture with stole and chasuble, anointing of hands with sacred chrism and the fraternal kiss during which other priests at the Mass embrace each of the newly ordained.
After ordination, the six new priests joined the concelebrants – including Bishop Malesic, Axillary Bishop Michael Woost, Daegu Auxiliary Bishop Don Bosco Shin-Ho Chang, Abbot Gary Hoover, OSB, their pastors, seminary faculty and diocesan vicars -- around the altar to finish celebrating Mass.
Four priest friends of Father Han traveled from South Korea for the ordination liturgy. Three were classmates before he entered the seminary here and the fourth was his former pastor. Many of his family members also made the trip to attend the ordination and one of his sisters proclaimed a reading in Korean.
After Mass, the new priests each gave the bishop a blessing.
They gathered in the rectory parlor with their families for photos with the bishops and returned to the cathedral for additional photo opps.
Beginning June 13, the newly ordained will serve as parochial vicars at the following parishes: Father Chojnacki, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Wooster; Father Gideon, St. Albert the Great, North Royalton; Father Kelly, St. John Vianney, Mentor; Father Liptak, St. Basil the Great, Brecksville; Father Stein, St. Francis of Assisi, Gates Mills; Father Han, St. Mary, Chardon and St. Patrick, Thompson.
For more information about the priesthood, click here.