May 24, 2013


Local Church’s diversity on display at priestly ordination on May 18

The spontaneous moment moved the nearly 1,000 people in attendance to enthusiastically applaud with appreciation.

The smiles that filled SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral were genuine, too.

But the scene also clearly demonstrated the diversity of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

When Fathers John Kamwendo, Douglas Marcotte and Martin Rodriguez exchanged a sign of peace and embraced after the ordination rite during the May 18 liturgy where they dedicated their lives to Christ as priests, the joyful scene on display put into clear focus how people of different cultures are becoming more and more a part of our Church family in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Yes, we have Father Marcotte, the longtime Indiana resident who grew up at St. Michael Parish in Greenfield and later graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, where his vocation began to blossom. His brother, transitional Deacon David Marcotte, God willing, will join him as a priest next year.

We also have Father Rodriguez, who moved to Indiana from his native Mexico in 2002, and felt called to pursue his vocation in the U.S. after a near-death experience, which resulted in the loss of a close friend.

Finally, we have Father Kamwendo, a native of Tanzania, who had his seed for priestly vocation planted early in life, but didn’t see it fully take root until he moved to southern Indiana.

The day was historic for several reasons. It was the first time that men born in Mexico and Africa were ordained priests for the Church in southern and central Indiana.

The three were also the first men that Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin ordained to the priesthood as shepherd of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

That two of the three new priests were born outside the U.S. should come as no surprise. In its 17th annual survey of ordinands commissioned by the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in Washington released a study showing that three out of every 10 new priests being ordained this year were born outside the U.S.

What it also reveals, as Father Kamwendo said after the ordination Mass, is the universality of the Church.

Father Rodriguez took the unique quality of the class even a step further, pointing to how the Church celebrates Pentecost—in this case the day after the ordination—each year to recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“Ever since the beginning of the Church, we’ve had different tongues being united in the Church by the Holy Spirit,” he said after the bilingual Mass. “Ordinations are a great time to see it.”

While each man brings unique gifts—and languages—to his priestly ministry, they also have at least one thing in common: A desire to serve our Church as happy, holy priests, and to help each of us grow in our lives of faith.

Though there was much to celebrate on May 18, Archbishop Tobin warned the men that challenges will be a part of their priesthood.

But the archbishop also told them they can “assume their responsibilities with great confidence since God’s will never takes us to a place where his grace cannot sustain us.”

Our prayers, too, can help sustain these new priests and all who serve our Church.

In today’s secular world, living out a priestly vocation isn’t easy.

But with God’s grace and our prayers, all things are possible.

—Mike Krokos

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