November 4, 2009 // Uncategorized

Privilege of ordaining a priest is something words cannot express

A moment of Catholic history
The sun broke through in midmorning signaling a day never to be forgotten by those in attendance. I refer to the ordination of two priests. The historic and beautiful Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was full. There were 72 priests in attendance. I have always found the privilege of ordaining a priest as something that words cannot express. I try to pray more beforehand and maybe make a few small sacrifices and, if possible, receive the sacrament of penance, and pray that my heart will be made more pure. To impose hands on two young men who will be celebrating Mass, and preaching and caring for the flock long after I am gone to the good Lord, is a privilege and a joy, and the only fitting response is one of humility and unworthiness, along with trust in the love of Christ.

And then there is the presence of the presbyterate. Our cathedral, with its perfect setting for priests, lends itself to the true message of the presbyterate. Msgr. Bill Lester reminds me that it was Father Tom Jones, CSC, an exemplary pastor in this diocese during my years here who made the recommendation. Tom served on the committee, which gave advice on the cathedral. To be surrounded by priests and a full cathedral of the faithful, along with that magnificent music lifting our hearts to God. Many thanks to Mike Dulac, his wife Kathy, and the large cathedral choir taken from many parishes, which helped us to worship and pray.

And the radio broadcast
It was all broadcast live on Redeemer Radio; and I had an interview afterwards with them. A special thanks to Father Daryl Rybicki who drove from his new pastorate at Corpus Christi, South Bend. Father Rybicki is a good communicator and he gave the commentary throughout. I did not hear it, but Sean McBride of Redeemer Radio, told me that Father Rybicki’s commentary was knowledgeable, filled with good content and delivered with dignity. This is not surprising, as he was trained by the Benedictines at St. Meinrad’s with their great tradition about the holy liturgy.

And the two ordained
Father Jake Runyon is a member of the rightly respected Tippmann family. There are hundreds of them. The original family — had 15 or 16 children, if you count one who came to live with them. They are inventors and managers and business men and women, and the original family has hundreds of grandchildren. It is commonplace for a Tippmann to come home from Bishop Dwenger and say to parents, “I think I met a new cousin today.” Father Jake is the second Tippmann ordained a priest, Father Larry Tippmann being the other. Jake grew up in St. Louis Parish, Besancon, and celebrated his first Mass there on Sunday morning, and then a later Mass Sunday evening at St. John’s, New Haven, in the hope that at least a good portion of this huge family could be present.

Our first local Mexican-born priest
Father Fernando Jimenez came to this country with his family in 1999, and is a member of St. Patrick’s Parish. We hope that he will be only the first of many young Hispanic men who will enter the priesthood. The presence of all our seminarians was a great blessing, with only Zach Barry struck with the flu unable to join us.

Father Runyon will be assigned to St. Matthew’s Parish, South Bend, and Father Jimenez will reside and serve at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and also at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Warsaw. Please keep them in your prayers.

The Year for Priests
Surely, there will be many graces this year for the sanctification of our priests and for the calling of new young men to offer their lives to Christ as priests. It is the first time in the history of the church that there has been a Year for Priests. It is not to exalt us, but to give our hearts to a deeper holiness and to draw our people into prayer for priests — and for future priests.

Speaking of Redeemer Radio
Last week, I had a routine medical checkup, and while waiting, a man came over to me asking if I was Bishop D’Arcy and holding a book. It was one of those volumes in which people who have entered or returned to the Catholic Church explained their reasons. I think this book was about 11 who have done so. It is defined under the category apologetics. You often hear such apologists on Redeemer Radio, answering questions and giving “reason for the faith that is in them.” At any rate, this man sat down beside me and shared the book with me. Such events often happen to priests, and it is one reason why it is a blessing that priests in this country have retained their clerical garb. This man who had a serious cancer told me that he intended to return to the Catholic faith. He said he spoke about it to his wife, who is also a former Catholic, and she said she had been thinking the same thing. I asked him what has brought this about. There were several things. First of all, was the fact that he listened all day to Redeemer Radio (Catholic Radio 1450-AM on your dial in Fort Wayne). He said he found it very instructional and enlightening and it responded to all of his concerns. He had been raised Catholic and Redeemer Radio was God’s instrument in calling him back. He also said that he missed the holy Eucharist. He spoke about the fact that he found himself drawn toward the cross, which has the corpus on it, the body of Christ. He did not find this in other churches, and this was very important to him. He is in touch with a priest, and I was privileged to encourage him on his journey.

Redeemer Radio is a great instrument of evangelization. Several pastors have told me that they have had several similar experiences, people coming right in off the street to ask questions and seek counsel, because of something they heard on the radio. I think there are many people hungering these days for the truth of the Catholic faith, and we must look for ways to reach them. There is a similar station in South Bend, although they do not yet have a studio.

A personal note
In celebrating the Mass of ordination, I used the chalice that my dear mother and father gave me when I was ordained a priest. Following the custom of that time, in the small Celtic cross, there was placed the diamond from my mother’s engagement ring. The cross was fashioned from the high school rings of my three sisters. I have thought recently that this was too much to ask. The diamond ring that my father had given her in 1930 — she gave it up. When you are 24 and you are ordained, you do not know the value of things, but worst of all, you think you do. I thought of her while celebrating Mass, because I believe my parents were the main instrument in God’s grace for my becoming a priest. I think it is good now that she has gone to heaven that this sign of her love for my dad and her family is present in that chalice. But it must have caused her pain at the time. When I do not have an outside Mass, I say Mass at home; and that is where the chalice should be.

My dear priests in this diocese gave me a chalice on my 50th anniversary, and I will keep that for Mass at the Cathedral. Such are the poignant thoughts of an old priest who thinks of himself as still young on one of the most sacred days of all, the ordination of two new priests.
I look forward to the religious education instructional day this Saturday, at which I am to give the keynote. The subject is the Year for Priests.

A beautiful country drive to St. Joseph Parish, Bluffton, where I celebrated Mass for the installation of Rev. Francis Chukwuma, JCL, as pastor. He is a splendid, joyful, priest from Nigeria, a land “evangelized by Irish missionaries” as he informed his people during the reception. He is very beloved already by the people and is a blessing on that important town. He received a standing ovation from the parishioners. Father Francis is a trained canon lawyer who still assists in our diocesan Marriage Tribunal two days a week.

I will see you all next week.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.