By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Sister Nancy Schwieters witnessed the ordination of five men, three to the priesthood and two to the diaconate, at Sacred Heart Cathedral with a joy that “touches me to my toes.”
That sense of Spirit-filled joy permeated the cathedral on June 7 as Bishop Martin Amos presided at the Liturgy of Ordination and 48 priests (11 in the sanctuary and 38 in the pews), concelebrated.
Sr. Schwieters of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary attended the Mass with other members of her community, including Sister Miriam Anstey, an aunt of newly ordained Father Kevin Anstey.
Fr. Anstey, whose family will continue to call him “KJ,” has stayed occasionally at the Davenport house that his aunt shares with Sr. Schwieters and others.
“This is a good day for the Church,” Sr. Schwieters said, referring to a sense of hope, springtime, and the celebration itself.
Even before the Mass began, soon-to-be Father Chris Young expressed a sense of exhilaration. A married, former Episcopal priest with three grown children, he’d longed to serve as a priest again. His acceptance into the Roman Catholic priesthood required permission from Pope Francis, based on a 1980 pastoral provision granting admission to Catholic ministry of married, former Episcopal priests. Fr. Young is the first clergyman in the Davenport Diocese to enter the priesthood under that pastoral provision.
Each of the others who were about to be ordained — Bill Roush and Guillermo Treviño to the diaconate and Deacons Anstey and Bob Cloos to the priesthood — had also longed for this day to arrive. Roush, a widower, had experienced his late wife Cindy’s presence throughout the discernment process. Treviño, who once worked as a reporter for a Spanish language publication, regularly posts about his journey to ordained ministry on Facebook. Anstey worked as a contractor testing new farm machinery before he responded to his call to priesthood, after much thought and prayer while driving a tractor. Cloos, at 56, is the oldest among the five to be ordained, and found it amazing to be called so late in life.
“These men are your sons, your brothers, your husband, your father, your classmates, your friends,” Bishop Martin Amos observed in his homily. “These five men are prepared to respond to a call by God and by the Church to ordained ecclesial ministry — church ministry.
“They will join with many dedicated women and men who are lay ecclesial ministers doing myriads of duties in and for the Church. To be sure, all of us have a vocation, a call from God to holiness, to live a self-giving love. All of us have a commissioning to spread the Gospel to the world. What makes this day different, for these men, is that they are called now to ordained ministry, called to assist all the baptized in carrying out that baptismal call to holiness and evangelization.”
To the deacon candidates, Bishop Amos said: “You are to be configured to Christ, the servant of all, called to assist the bishop and the priests, to be at the service of liturgy, the Gospel and, above all, to works of charity. During these months as transitional deacons I ask you to reflect on the role of deacon because even as one assumes the role of priest they never cease being called to diakonia.”
Then, the bishop turned to the priest candidates and said, “You will be configured to Christ the supreme and eternal high priest, consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful. You will represent Christ before the assembly of the faithful and act in its name when presenting to God the prayer of the Church. Especially, you will celebrate the Eucharist, pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the universal Church, forgive sins, and preach the Word.
“… Together with all the priests, you will be bound by a sacramental brotherhood. The unity of the presbyterium (priesthood) will find liturgical expressing with the presbyters (priests) joining me in imposing hands in the rite of ordination.”
Concluding his homily, Bishop Amos asked the assembly to continue to love and support the five men he was about to ordain. “Challenge them when they need to be challenged, encourage them when they need encouragement. But above all, pray for them. Pray for others to join them both in lay and ordained ministry.”
For newly ordained Deacon Roush, the highlight of the Mass came when he faced the congregation after his election for Order of Deacon and “everyone was applauding. I felt my (late) wife’s arm around me. That was so special.” During the Litany of Supplication, as he lay on the floor at the foot of the altar listening to the singing of the names of saints, he said he was praying for the deceased, knowing that they were guiding him.
A highlight for Deacon Treviño was being with his brother deacons and the priests of the diocese. During the litany, he thought about his dad, who died 14 years ago. “I was talking to him,” Deacon Treviño said. The litany, he added, “was very powerful. It hit me. I think I had tears.”
Fr. Anstey’s special moment happened after his fellow priests laid hands on him and then went up to the altar behind him. He had forgotten that’s where they would go. “Just to turn around and see all of our brother priests in the sanctuary, it was very moving. It was the realization of the brotherhood I was being welcomed into.”
Fr. Cloos said consecration of the Eucharist and “being able to participate in the Eucharistic Prayer” were the most memorable moments for him. He noted that his hometown parish, Ss. Peter and Paul in Springbrook, Iowa, celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. “I’m the first one to come out of my parish as a priest in maybe 40 years,” he said.
The three newly ordained priests blessed their bishop after the Mass before making themselves available to bless members of the congregation. Fr. Young, beaming before, during and after the Mass, said: “Because you feel the love of the people for their priests and the joy of the Lord, it is a confirmation that what you’re embarking on is his will and pleasure for your life.”