June 10, 2022

'A revelation of our joy'

Cathedral filled with rejoicing at the ordination of two new priests

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson prays a prayer of consecration over transitional Deacons Michael Clawson, left, and Matthew Perronie during a June 4 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis in which the deacons were ordained priests. Seminarian Liam Hosty, right, assists during the liturgy. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson prays a prayer of consecration over transitional Deacons Michael Clawson, left, and Matthew Perronie during a June 4 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis in which the deacons were ordained priests. Seminarian Liam Hosty, right, assists during the liturgy. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

June 4 opened as a bright, late spring day in central Indiana. That weather matched the sunny attitude of the approximately 600 people who gathered in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for the first priesthood ordination in the archdiocese since 2019.

“What a beautiful day for an ordination,” Archbishop Charles C. Thompson said at the start of the Mass. “Of course, no matter what it was going to be like, it was going to be a beautiful day for an ordination here. … It’s long overdue.”

(Related: See a photo gallery from the ordination Mass | More photos)

It was a joyous day, too, for newly-ordained Father Michael Clawson and Father Matthew Perronie.

“I had this moment of joy during the Mass, because I’ve been serving at Mass since I was 6 years old,” Father Clawson, 28, said moments after the Mass. “It was like, ‘Great! I get to do what I’ve been doing for the rest of my life.’ Prior to being ordained, I got to assist at the liturgy. Now I get to be the presider at the liturgy.”

Father Perronie found joy in seeing the people gathered in the cathedral, many of whom he’s served in archdiocesan parishes in his eight years of priestly formation.

“I looked out at all the people who were there, realizing the friendships that I’ve made,” he recalled. “But I also remembered that I’ll need to continue to cultivate that among the parishes that I’ll be at.”

Beginning on July 6, Father Perronie will begin service as parochial vicar of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis. On that same day, Father Clawson starts his ministry as parochial vicar of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg and chaplain coordinator of Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis.

In his homily during the ordination Mass, Archbishop Thompson also reveled in the joy of the day.

“The Church rejoices in your courage, humility and generosity of committing yourselves to the life and ministry of ordained priesthood,” Archbishop Thompson said. “ … The archdiocesan presbyterate welcomes you with great joy.

“Dare to serve from both strength and weakness, relying not so much on yourselves but on the grace of God, the teachings of the Church, the fraternity of the presbyterate in union with the bishop and the faith of God’s holy people.”

The archbishop encouraged the men he was about to ordain as priests to root their ministry in the broader community of priests in central and southern Indiana.

“Our presbyterate, though diverse in various ways, is made up of many good, holy, gifted and devoted men of God, sons of the Church,” Archbishop Thompson said. “At the very core of such holy priests is a deep commitment to ongoing prayer, discernment, formation, education and conversion … all rooted in the word of God, the grace of the sacraments and outreach of service.

“We welcome and encourage Deacons Matthew and Michael to be a part of this presbyterate, enhancing our fraternity, not just with age, but with the gifts and talents that you bring, your own particular spirituality.”

Father Clawson experienced the care of the priests he was joining when they all ritually laid hands on his head during the Mass. As each faced him to place their hands on his head, the folds of their chasubles enveloped his head in what he said was a symbol “of the protection of God.” (Story continues beneath video)

“In relationship to the presbyterate that we’re joining, through that fraternity comes these relationships that will help to sustain me and hold me up,” Father Clawson said. “They’ll be there as a support when I need them.”

For Father Perronie, his relationship with the priests of the archdiocese isn’t new.

“Journeying through the seminary these past eight years, I participated in a way in that fraternity, getting to know priests and getting to be with them,” he said. “Now in a real way I’m one of their brother priests. It’s cool to look at how I have cultivated fraternity up until this point and how all of that will continue and become even greater.”

Father Eric Augenstein accompanied both new priests throughout their years of priestly formation, first as archdiocesan vocations director and more recently as archdiocesan director of seminarians.

He appreciated seeing them grow toward ordained ministry.

“It shows what formation can do and the gifts that can be developed over time,” Father Augenstein said. “They’re natural in a person to begin with. But then through prayer and good formation, they’re developed and bear fruit in the priesthood. That’s a beautiful thing to witness.”

Father Joseph Moriarty said he was “overwhelmed” by taking part in the ordination of two men whom he helped to prepare for ordained ministry while serving on the formation staff of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.

“To have ordinations again made me very emotional,” said Father Moriarty, rector of Bishop Bruté.

He was glad to see his own emotions matched in the congregation, who applauded for the two new priests at different points during the Mass.

“The applause was a revelation of our joy for these two men,” said Father Moriarty.

Parents of the two new priests shared in the joy of the Mass.

“It was exciting and emotional, just knowing that it’s come full circle,” said Kathy Perronie.

“I’m really proud of him,” added Brent Perronie, who, with his wife, is a member of St. Malachy Parish.

“It’s such a long road for any seminarian,” said Annette Clawson, a member of Annunciation Parish in Brazil. “It’s amazing. What a beautiful Mass that was. Everyone ought to experience it once.”

Although the people gathered at the cathedral rejoiced in the ordination, Archbishop Thompson reminded then-Deacons Clawson and Perronie in his homily moments before he ordained them of the true focus of the priestly life and ministry they were about to take on.

“In the end, it’s not about either of you, me or any other person gathered here,” he said. “This is all about glorifying God, working to bring about his kingdom and the salvation of souls.

“Thus, we seek to serve rather than be served. With eyes, hearts and minds fixed on Jesus Christ the great high priest and shepherd, may this be so for you, may this be so for me, may this be so all of us.”

(For more information about vocation to the priesthood in the archdiocese, visit HearGodsCall.com.)

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