By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — If joy could be measured in hugs, the Liturgy of Ordination on June 6 at Sacred Heart Cathedral scored a “10.” The two priests and one deacon ordained by Bishop Martin Amos exchanged enthusiastic hugs first with their respective order of clergy during the Mass and then afterwards with family, friends and other well-wishers.
Bishop Amos observed during his homily that the three men – Father-elect William Roush, Father-elect Guillermo Trevino Jr., and Deacon-elect Ross Epping — each has been called to ordained ministry from different paths in life. As with all of the people who filled the cathedral that morning, they shared a common thread: they are called, gifted and sent.
Each man comes to the table with gifts as well and limitations. The prophet Jeremiah, in the first reading, realized his limitations and protested that he was too young to speak. The Lord assured Jeremiah, “I place my words in your mouth.” Bishop Amos told the ordinands: “When you feel the weight of this responsibility, remember it is God’s work, Christ’s Church, the Spirit’s life-breath.”
The first letter of Peter in the second reading speaks of the gifts God bestows and the expectation that these gifts are to be used to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. “There are no cookie-cutter priests or deacons, and each of these three men has areas of not-so-giftedness and so will work with others and their gifts.” Peter’s letter offers further advice, the bishop continued. “Be serious so you can pray, let your love be intense, preach with the words of God, serve with the strength that God supplies.”
Referring to the Gospel of John chosen for the ordination liturgy, Bishop Amos told the ordinands they must “stand beneath the cross and see not only the cost of our redemption, but the love of the Redeemer. … Hear Jesus say to you just as surely as he said to the apostles: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”
Election of the candidates followed the bishop’s homily. Father Thom Hennen, diocesan director of vocations, testified to the worthiness of each candidate and Bishop Amos accepted the recommendation. The candidates, in turn, made promises to the bishop. The congregation applauded for each man.
Seated in a chair in front of the altar, Bishop Amos laid hands on and ordained Deacon Epping. The bishop prayed for the gift of the Holy Spirit so that the new deacon “might be strengthened by the sevenfold gift of God’s grace for the faithful carrying out of the work of the ministry.”
Deacon Epping descended the stairs to be vested with stole and dalmatic by Abbott Vincent Bataille of Marmion Abbey in Aurora, Ill., before receiving the Book of the Gospels from the bishop. Then the priests-elect knelt at the foot of the altar stairs for the bishop and priests to lay hands on them. Ordaining the priests, Bishop Amos prayed that the Spirit of holiness may be renewed deep within them. Father Rudolph Juarez vested Father Trevino and Father Ken Kuntz vested Father Roush. Fr. Juarez had a bit of a challenge placing the chasuble over the head of the taller Fr. Trevino.
Bishop Amos separately anointed the new priests with sacred chrism and handed them the bread and wine with these words: “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.”
The bishop shared the sign of peace with the newly ordained. Then the 53 priests and 20 deacons left their pews to give the sign of peace — the priests to the new priests and the deacons to the new deacon. The priests joined Bishop Amos at the altar for the consecration.
Deacon Epping carefully placed chalices and patens on the altar, lifting the sleeve of his dalmatic to avoid toppling the chalices. “We told him he did a good job of lifting the chalices from the trays to the altar,” teased Sheila Deluhery, retired from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Deacon Epping’s alma mater.
Peggy and Ed Epping said the ordination liturgy brought back memories of Deacon Epping’s childhood.
His mother recalls him saying, “I can’t wait to meet Jesus.” Cole, one of the five Epping sons (all were at the ordination liturgy) proclaimed the first reading at Deacon Epping’s request. “It’s exciting to see him finally get to the diaconate. I’m very proud of him,” Cole said.
Deacon Epping summed up his feelings after ordination: “unfathomable joy. I have never felt so peaceful and joy-filled.” He’s looking forward to becoming a priest next year, but at the same time: “I’m so happy to be here today, right now, as a deacon.”
Fr. Roush, a convert and widower with two grown daughters, began his journey to the priesthood with Deacon Class VI. He’s going to make a good priest because he has lived as a husband, father, businessman and widower, said Jane Kamerick whose huband, Deacon Ed Kamerick, was ordained with Deacon Class VI.
Fr. Roush’s two daughters, Elsabeth Hepworth and Jeanette Roush, expressed joy for their father, the Father. “I’m ecstatic,” Elsabeth said, adding that she appreciated the great turnout from the family’s parish, St. Mary’s in Iowa City. She’ll call her dad “My father the father” and has a “hashtag” with that moniker on Twitter (a social network). Jeanette’s hashtag is “My father squared.”
Both daughters said their late mother, Cindy, had a huge impact on their dad’s faith journey. “She shaped his life,” Elsabeth said. “We could all feel my mother’s presence,” Jeanette said.
Throughout the liturgy, Fr. Roush kept thinking: “God, if this is your will let it be done.” He said it meant a lot to him “to have family behind me.” That included his late wife. “She’s with me. None of this would have happened if it weren’t for Cindy and her mother.” Fr. Roush looks forward to his first assignment, serving at Ss. John & Paul Parish in Burlington with Father Marty Goetz, the pastor.
Father Trevino Jr.’s mother, Maria, said through an interpreter that she was very happy that her son had reached what he wanted in life. “All of the family is happy with his priesthood. There are people who came from Mexico,” she added. “Guillermo suffered a lot because his dad died when he was a little boy, but God helped us to get the family united, even in the bad times.”
Nick Miller, a longtime friend of Fr. Trevino, celebrated his 29th birthday June 6. As Miller, who uses a wheel chair, approached Fr. Trevino for a blessing, the new priest exclaimed, “He gave up his birthday for me!”
Miller’s mother, Bernadette, recalled that the two young men attended religious education classes together at St. Mary Parish in Moline, Ill. Guillermo was one of four individuals who helped to carry Nick’s manual wheel chair up to CCD class, Bernadette noted.
Of all his birthdays, “I’ll never forget this one,” Nick Miller said. Fr. Trevino won’t forget this special day, either. “When I got the signal to go up to the altar, I thought, ‘Oh man! I’m a priest,” he said. “Some of the priests asked me before Mass, ‘Are you ready?’ You’re never ready. You trust in the Lord.”
He’s thrilled about being assigned in solidum with two other diocesan priests to St. Alphonsus and St. Mary parishes in Davenport and St. Peter Parish in Buffalo. “What an honor, being a local guy.”