June 8, 2018

‘All by the grace of God’: Father Jeffrey Dufresne ordained newest priest of archdiocese during June 2 Mass

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson addresses Miter Society and Legacy Society members at the “Circle of Giving” event at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on May 9. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, second from left, prays a prayer of consecration over transitional Deacon Jeffrey Dufresne on June 2 during a Mass in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis in which Deacon Dufresne was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Assisting in the liturgy are, from left, transitional Deacons Vincent Gilmore, Timothy DeCrane (obscured) and seminarian Charlie Wessel. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Transitional Deacon Jeffrey Dufresne knelt in prayer as more than 100 pairs of hands were slowly laid on his head, one after another.

It happened while he was being ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on June 2 in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

(See a photo gallery from the Mass)

The first to lay hands on him was Archbishop Charles C. Thompson. When that happened, Deacon Dufresne was mindful of the archbishop’s spiritual tie to all previous bishops, including Bishop Simon Bruté, who served from 1834-39 as the first bishop of the Vincennes, Ind., Diocese, which later became the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“Those just weren’t Archbishop Charles Thompson’s hands,” said newly ordained Father Dufresne after the ordination liturgy. “They were the hands of St. Peter, the Apostles and their successors, [including] Bishop Bruté, all the way down through the ages.”

Following Archbishop Thompson were scores of priests who serve the Catholic faithful across central and southern Indiana, a group of priests that Father Dufresne is happy to join.

“I really do admire our presbyterate,” he said. “They’re all men of authenticity. During that time, I was praying that the Lord would give me the strength to be a priest as good, faithful and as authentic as they are.”

In his homily that he offered just minutes before the laying on of hands, Archbishop Thompson, echoing the repeated call of Pope Francis, exhorted Deacon Dufresne in his priestly life and ministry to “cultivate a culture of accompaniment, dialogue, encounter and mercy.”

While the hard work of fostering such a culture takes place in the grittiness of everyday life and sometimes difficult relationships, Archbishop Thompson noted that this necessary ministry is rooted in the fundamentals of the Gospel.

“Encountering one another and various aspects of culture and society must always be predicated on the ultimate encounter with the Holy Trinity,” Archbishop Thompson reflected, “seeking to know and do the will of the Father, embrace and carry out the mission of the Son and be ever attentive to the movement of the Spirit in reading the signs of the times.

“Proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments and seeking to serve the needs of others provide a framework for the Church’s witness to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”

Archbishop Thompson admitted this approach to the priesthood “may seem a bit overwhelming, a daunting expectation to live up to.” At the same time, he encouraged Deacon Dufresne that it was possible through the power of prayer and God’s grace.

“At the heart of ordained ministry must be a living relationship with Jesus Christ so that you may see as Christ sees and love as he loves,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Just as it took the disciples time to really imitate Christ in service to others, so you must continue to grow in union with him in prayer and intimacy of relationship.”

This grace will flow to Deacon Dufresne not simply through his own prayer, Archbishop Thompson assured him, but also through all the faithful of central and southern Indiana.

“Know of our prayers, support and gratitude for your witness of courage, humility and generosity in giving of yourself as an ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,” Archbishop Thompson said. “This local Church of central and southern Indiana is richer for you becoming a member of this wonderful presbyterate. May you be just as enriched. All by the grace of God.”

Seated close by Deacon Dufresne when Archbishop Thompson and the priests present ritually laid hands on him were his parents, Michael and Jennifer Dufresne of Beavercreek, Ohio, his four siblings, two grandmothers and many other relatives and friends.

“My family gave me the gift of faith, brought me to the Church to be baptized,” Father Dufresne said later. “My family has supported me. Even when I didn’t want to be a priest, they supported me and encouraged me to consider it.

“Once I joined the seminary, the support of my family has really meant everything to me. I can’t overstate the effect that my parents and my family have had on my vocation.”

Jennifer and Michael Dufresne spoke after the Mass about witnessing their son beginning his priestly life and ministry.

“It was a dream to watch him profess his faith and know with all his heart that this is what he is meant to do,” Jennifer said.

“I hope that he’s able to lead everybody that he contacts to heaven,” said Michael.

Kay Dufresne of Cincinnati, a grandmother of Father Dufresne, said watching her grandson being ordained was “awesome” but not surprising.

“It wasn’t unexpected,” she said. “He showed that godly stuff all his life.”

Kay now hopes that he will work to get “God’s message out to people, which he definitely can. Try to get some peace in this world.”

Father Dufresne, who will begin ministry as associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis on July 5, said he hopes to do that through the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and in reconciling sinners to God.

“The sacrament of penance has had a profound effect in my life,” he said. “As I begin my ministry, I’m really looking forward to forgiving sins and helping others remove the obstacles to their relationship with God in their life.”

(To learn more about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit HearGodsCall.com.)

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