November 4, 2009 // Uncategorized

A gift to the people

Father Jacob Runyon, left, and Father Fernando Jimenez, right, pose with Bishop John M. D’Arcy on the steps of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne after their ordination to the holy priesthood on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Father Jacob Runyon, left, and Father Fernando Jimenez, right, pose with Bishop John M. D’Arcy on the steps of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne after their ordination to the holy priesthood on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Two ordained to the priesthood

By Tim Johnson

FORT WAYNE — The priesthood is a gift to the people. And that gift was celebrated Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne as Bishop John M. D’Arcy ordained to the priesthood two young men — Father Jacob Runyon and Father Fernando Jimenez.

The ordination was historical in that Father Jimenez is the first Mexican-born priest to be ordained for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The Mass began with the sounds of the richly blended voices of the cathedral choir as the procession of diocesan and visiting priests and seminarians, bedecked in the traditional celebratory white and gold vestments, processed up the aisle to the sanctuary. The two soon-to-be priests, took their places before the altar and the rite of ordination began.

The rite of ordination includes the election of the candidates in which the readiness of the candidates is affirmed, followed by the homily, then the promise of the elect in which both candidates declared their intention to assume the responsibility of the office of priesthood and promise their obedience and respect to the bishop and his successors.

In his homily, Bishop D’Arcy spoke of what is expected of the priest and what Jesus Christ will give to the priest if his heart is open.

This freely chosen is so demanding, yet so beautiful, Bishop D’Arcy noted, “through which the people receive the body and the blood of Christ, and their sacrifices are joined with the sacrifice of Christ so they are enriched and elevated to God through the Eucharist.”

Bishop D’Arcy spoke of the Year for Priests, the first time in the history of the church that the year was set aside for priests for their sanctification, for their holiness. The church, through its priests, has lived through much in its last 50 years, but now it seems, what John Paul II in a vision of faith declared to be the coming of a new springtime for the church and for Christianity. “It’s coming especially to the priests.” 

He said it is seen through the coming forth of priests of good quality, holy, approachable, joyful and near to Christ. And Pope Benedict XVI brought forth St. John Vianney as an example, the patron saint now of all priests. A statue of the saint was displayed in the sanctuary of the cathedral during the Mass.

St. John Vianney could not read or write at the age of 18 when he requested acceptance into the seminary. This teaches humility and holiness with St. John Vianney’s extraordinary sense of the priesthood. 

“The priesthood, he said, is the love for the heart of Christ,” Bishop D’Arcy told the congregation. “In other words, you see a man giving himself totally in the full bloom of life for you — because they are not ordained for themselves, never, but for you — shows Jesus Christ loves you.”

It was said of  St. John Vianney, that every day he offered Mass, he offered himself to God, Bishop D’Arcy noted, “May this be true of us.”

The ordination rite is like a great catechetical lesson, Bishop D’Arcy said. “It’s also meant that you too, as you see these two young men prostrate on the sanctuary of this historic cathedral like so many before them — that you too — will offer yourselves to God.”

Following the homily, the litany of supplication was sung, while the elect prostrated themselves as a sign of their complete submission to the will of God. The bishop and then the entire college of priests, laid hands on the heads of the candidates in accordance with apostolic tradition. Then with hands outstretched with the elect kneeling, the bishop prayed the prayer of ordination.

The prayer was followed by the investiture with the stole and chasuble and the anointing of hands. The palms of the newly ordained were anointed with chrism, which symbolizes wisdom and strength. Then deacons assisted the bishop in receiving the gifts of the people — bread and wine, the paten and chalice — delivered by the joy-filled parents of the two newly ordained, and the bishop extended these gifts to the new priests as they knelt before him. 

In the rite the bishop said, “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”

As the ordination rite concluded, the bishop offered the fraternal kiss of peace and welcomed the new priests into the diocesan presbyterate. The entire presbyterate, along with visiting clergy, gave the fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained as serenity and joy radiated from the faces of each of the priests.

The two newly ordained priests took to the microphone to offer their heartfelt thanks to all who supported them as they worked toward this monumental day. Father Runyon expressed his deep satisfaction at the splendor of the day, saying, “I can’t tell you how happy I am — finding out what God wants and to do it with all my heart makes me happiest.”

He then thanked those in attendance for their love and support. “I thank my family, bishop, everyone, … and to Almighty God for the gift of the priesthood. May God bless you.”

Father Jimenez spoke first in Spanish, then English saying, “Today is a special day. A priest is for you to receive the gift of the love of God.”
He thanked his family, friends and superiors for their prayer support and reminded those present to continue to pray for them, “that we will remain faithful to God for the rest of our lives.”

Father Runyon returned to speak his thanks in Spanish as well.

Amidst applause in concluding remarks near the end of Mass, Bishop D’Arcy assigned Father Runyon to St. Matthew Co-Cathedral Parish in South Bend and Father Jimenez as associate pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Warsaw.

“As a bishop it is a great honor to ordain these two men,” Bishop D’Arcy said. “I always feel very unworthy of such a significant contribution, a moment in the life of the church in the most blessed enduring things a priest does.”

The bishop asked all in the cathedral to pray every day for priests and to pray for more good men of quality, from different cultures, to follow the two who were ordained.

Following the spectacular Mass of Ordination, the congregation was invited to attend a light luncheon held at the Grand Wayne Center, where the newly ordained Father Jimenez and Runyon were available for blessings.

Mary Runyon, Father Runyon’s mother, who had dedicated him to God upon his birth said, “I am so excited for him. He is so happy.” As for preparation for this day, she added, “Things went so smoothly. People were so kind. When they asked to help, I asked them to pray.”

Father Larry Tippmann, the grand uncle of the newly ordained Father Runyon said comedically, “My replacement is here!” He added that he was thrilled for the family and his nephew.

Brigette Sparks of Valparaiso came home to witness her childhood friend be ordained.  The two neighbors traveled daily back and forth to high school and also shared the World Youth Day experience together in Denver growing up. 

Sparks explained, “The ordination was absolutely awesome. It is so fabulous to see Jake become a priest. The Catholic church can not get enough Jake Runyons.”

Fernando and Floinda Jimenez, parents of Father Jimenez, were proud and humbled by their first born son’s ordination. “It’s good. We thank God. We were ready for this day.”

One young Hispanic family drove from Logansport to bear witness to their friend, Fernando Jimenez’s special day, the first ordination they had ever attended. Eva Garfias, with her husband Alexander, said through her son Alexander’s translation, “It is a real special day, a beautiful day. I feel so happy.”

Kay Cozad contributed to this story.

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