May 24, 2013

Three men are ordained priests for archdiocese during historic liturgy on May 18

With transitional deacons, dozens of priests and Bishop Christopher J. Coyne standing behind him, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin prays the prayer of consecration during a May 18 ordination Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Kneeling before Archbishop Tobin are transitional Deacons Martin Rodriguez, left, John Kamwendo and Douglas Marcotte, whom he ordained as priests during the liturgy. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

With transitional deacons, dozens of priests and Bishop Christopher J. Coyne standing behind him, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin prays the prayer of consecration during a May 18 ordination Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Kneeling before Archbishop Tobin are transitional Deacons Martin Rodriguez, left, John Kamwendo and Douglas Marcotte, whom he ordained as priests during the liturgy. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis was brimming with joy on May 18 when Fathers John Kamwendo, Douglas Marcotte and Martin Rodriguez were ordained priests to serve the Church in central and southern Indiana.

During the many ancient rituals involved in a priestly ordination, the expression of that joy was held in check.

But at the conclusion of the ordination rite, the three new priests, clad for the first time in their priestly vestments, exchanged a heartfelt sign of peace with each other. That show of love among the new brother priests opened the floodgates. The standing-room-only congregation soon rose to their feet in sustained applause.

“That was [a] powerful moment,” said Father Rodriguez. “I wasn’t expecting it. It just felt like the love of the people was shown in that applause.” (Related: Watch a video of the entire Mass | Watch just the homily)

While Father Rodriguez felt the love of the people in the congregation in their applause, minutes before that ovation Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin exhorted the men he was about to ordain to show their love for the faithful through remaining close to them.

He said that they would “be able to speak to the hearts of your people only if you know their joys and sorrows, their anxiety and their hope.

“You must never let the burden of administration or the pursuit of your own interests deafen you to the cry of our sisters and brothers who, like you, search for God and hunger for God’s word,” Archbishop Tobin said.

Later, Archbishop Tobin said that the love with which the new priests would carry out their ministry flowed from Jesus Christ.

In light of this reality, the archbishop encouraged them to remain close to Christ and to “carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.

“Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost,” Archbishop Tobin said.

(Related: See a photo gallery from the Mass | See a spread of photos from our print edition)

Although the May 18 ordination was marked by joy, Archbishop Tobin was realistic in referring to the challenges that will lay ahead for the new priests.

But he assured them that these obstacles need not overwhelm them, telling them that they can “assume their responsibilities with great confidence since God’s will never takes us to a place where his grace cannot sustain us.”

Father Marcotte said that the joyful thoughts etched into his memory during the ordination will be important for him in the years to come.

“This moment was something that was powerful,” he said. “It will be a day that I will be able to cherish and go back to over and over in my mind whenever challenges present themselves. It will be good to draw on what’s happened here today.”

What happened on May 18 in the cathedral was also historic for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It was the first time that men born in Mexico and in Africa were ordained priests for the Church in central and southern Indiana.

Father Kamwendo, who was born in Tanzania, said the international nature of the ordination highlighted the universality of the Church. He experienced this reality in a concrete way, he said, when he and the other newly ordained priests prayed different parts of the eucharistic prayer.

“You could tell by hearing the different accents,” said Father Kamwendo with a laugh. “It started with Martin with his accent. And then I came in with mine. And then Doug came. That struck me. It really cemented the fact that this is a universal Church.”

Although the bilingual ordination Mass was historic for the Church in central and southern Indiana, Father Rodriguez said that it really wasn’t new.

The feast of Pentecost, which was celebrated the day after the ordination, is centered on the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles 2,000 years ago and their subsequent preaching in Jerusalem to people of various languages and cultures from across the Mediterranean.

“It’s a sign of the continuity of the Church,” Father Rodriguez said of the ordination. “Ever since the beginning of the Church, we’ve had different tongues being united in the Church by the Holy Spirit. Ordinations are especially a great time to see it.”

If joy overflowed from the congregation as a whole during the ordination, it filled the hearts of the family members of the new priests even more.

“It was awesome,” said Irene Marcotte, mother of Father Marcotte and a member of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield. “It’s hard to put into words how you feel. We’ve been waiting for this moment for six years. Now it’s here and we just feel so blessed.”

The moment will come again for the Marcotte family next year when transitional Deacon David Marcotte, Father Marcotte’s brother, will be ordained a priest. During the May 18 ordination, Deacon Marcotte ritually called out the names of those to be ordained, including his brother.

From his place in the sanctuary, Deacon Marcotte had a good vantage point to see his brother experience the various ordination rituals.

“It was awesome to be able to see all those things take place with my brother, especially to see the archbishop lay his hands upon my brother’s head,” Deacon Marcotte said. “I was filled with joy because I knew that we had just gained another great priest and because I knew this was something that Father Douglas had been desiring for a long time.”

Martin Rodriguez, Father Rodriguez’s father, also witnessed the ordination from up close, seated in the front row of chairs in the cathedral.

“I saw everything,” he said. “But I saw a lot of happy people, too, enjoying it with me. I feel something inside of me in my heart. It’s going boom, boom, boom—really fast. I’m very excited.”

Father Rodriguez’s mother, Ninfa, was equally excited.

“It was an emotional adventure, very big,” she said through a translator. “I felt like I was flying in the clouds.”

Josephine Kamwendo, a sister of Father Kamwendo who traveled from Tanzania for the ordination, was also filled with joy during the liturgy.

“I was shivering with excitement,” she said through a translator. “I felt so excited.”

In his opening remarks at the ordination, Archbishop Tobin summed up the joy and sentiments of many who attended the liturgy by saying that “the world will be a better place because of what happens today.” †

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