One of the perks of covering an ordination Mass is interviewing family and friends of newly ordained priests and deacons afterwards. We’re family, even those of us who don’t have a son, brother, uncle or father who has just been ordained a priest or deacon. We’re family, the body of Christ striving to live out what it means to be Church in the Diocese of Davenport.
The ordination of three priests and two deacons during one Mass, June 7 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, created a bit of an interview challenge. How do you track down parents, siblings, children, and a spouse before they scatter and disperse? It’s not like they’re wearing name tags.
But they do pose for photos with the newly ordained and stand in line for a blessing. That’s where I met Deacon Guillermo Treviño’s mother, Maria, who spoke to me through an interpreter. “I’m very happy,” she said. The special moment of the Mass for her: “When he made his promise (to the bishop).”
Deacon Bill Roush’s daughter, Jeanette, serving in the Peace Corps in Africa, couldn’t make the ordination Mass, but phoned her dad to say that she was with him in spirit. Her older sister, Elsabeth Hepworth, snapping photos of their dad after Mass, said: “This is amazing. I couldn’t be more proud of him!”
While Father Chris Young is the first married, former Episcopal priest to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the Davenport Diocese, his wife Jody focused her joy on the bigger picture: “My Church has five new souls ordained to holy orders. I just love it!”
Another married, former Episcopal priest — Father Doug Grandon, now serving in Denver, Colo. — had the privilege of “vesting” Fr. Young with his stole and chasuble. Fr. Grandon had encouraged Fr. Young early on in his discernment of a call to Roman Catholic priesthood. “I’m thrilled to be here,” said Fr. Grandon, who previously taught at Assumption High School in Davenport and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill.
Molly Wagner, who volunteers at diocesan headquarters in Davenport, said she’s had the privilege of watching four boys from the Ottumwa area grow up to become priests: Fathers Paul Appel, Troy Richmond, Thom Hennen and now Kevin Anstey. She didn’t have any of them as students, however, when she taught at Seton Catholic School in Ottumwa.
She was moved when Bishop Amos handed over the bread and wine to the newly ordained priests. “It was the passing of the torch for the new priests to be able to consecrate the Eucharist. Only priests can do that.”
Denny and Belinda Anstey, parents of Fr. Anstey, shared this observation: “As the whole community of priests of the diocese welcomed the new priests to their ‘fold,’ the expressions of deep joy on their faces were incredible to behold.
“We probably noticed it more with those priests we knew from former assignments in Ottumwa, but it was there for all of them. All in all, I think it was the most awesome day of my life, and I have been very blessed in so many ways,” Denny said.
Carrie Jones, Fr. Anstey’s sister, served as a lector at the Mass. “It was an honor to be able to read at this Mass and to be part of it. I didn’t realize how emotional it would be for me.”
Michelle Snyder of St. James Parish in Washington attended the Mass with her son, Ben, who this fall will begin his first year at Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo. They also talked about their experience on the way home.
Michelle said, “What came back to me as very moving was to hear all the priests joined together from throughout the cathedral, praying as one the Eucharistic Prayer. Hearing all their voices lifting those prayers made me think of heaven, how this must be how it sounds when Masses are prayed throughout the world, all those prayers lifted to the Lord.”
For Ben, “seeing all of the priests welcoming the new priests” was a highlight of the Mass.
I didn’t have my own family with me on ordination day, but I felt enveloped in our family of faith.