In front of religious leaders, friends, family and onlookers, Piotr Gnoinski knelt before Cardinal Francis George and surrendered his life to God and the Catholic Church on Saturday.
Moments later, Gnoinski stood up, leaving behind his life as a student and starting a new one as a priest.
The 26-year-old was among 16 men who were ordained Catholic priests during a stirring, three-hour ceremony at Holy Name Cathedral on the Near North Side.
"I am overjoyed," Gnoinski said afterward. "I am at peace now. For me, this is the beginning of a real life. I will go to my parish community and teach the love of God."
This year’s group is Chicago’s largest class to be ordained since 1986. The group is also the largest class for any of the 195 American Catholic dioceses or archdioceses, said Rev. Thomas Baima, the provost at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, where the new priests were trained.
"The most important thing is not just the number this year, but that this represents the continuation of a 15-year trend of growth," he said. "People need good priests. We’re proud to say these men are ready."
For years, the number of ordained priests had been dwindling, Baima said. In 1990, the archdiocese ordained six priests, its smallest number.
But since then, the number has increased. Baima said he believes the growth is a result of programs that support men who decide to leave the workforce and enter the priesthood later in life. The new priests range in age from 25 to 46 and are from a variety of places, including Poland, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Chicago.
During the ceremony, the men wore plain white robes and listened as George explained their new roles: They will say mass, visit the sick, counsel parishioners and listen to confessions.
The men promised to serve the church, be obedient and respect religious leadership. Then they lay face down before the altar to symbolize their humility and willingness to surrender everything to God.
George placed his hands upon their heads, giving them a special blessing, then they were considered priests.
After the ordination, the men put on their new robes. They will begin serving their parishes on July 1.
Norman Hernan Moran Rosero of Ecuador was 15 when he took his First Communion, and even then he felt a calling to serve as a priest, he said.
"I think the best we can do for people is to serve them and meet their needs," he said. "The biggest need of people is spiritual."
Rosero, 28, will serve at St. Jerome Church in Chicago, where he’ll develop ministries for young people, he said.
"I feel so blessed," he said. "I’m not worthy of this, but God is merciful. He chose me to serve him." [Source]
It seems we are seeing more and more stories lately of some diocese ordaining their largest class in years showing a general turn around. For example this story that the number of seminarians worldwide has doubled in the last 25 years. In the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis 15 men become priests on May 28th. In the Diocese of Covington this story also talks about improvement and contains this interesting piece.
Enzweiler majored in physics at Thomas More College and then earned a doctorate in physics at UC. In 1987 he began teaching at the State University of New York College at Cortland, where he taught for three years. He then returned home and taught at NKU until 2001. He took a leave of absence to enter the seminary, then resigned in 2002.
He wrote in his e-mail from Rome that he felt moved to address his journey from hard science to the priesthood because it may seem unusual to some and because of the ongoing national debate over intelligent design/creationism vs. evolution/science.
"For me, science is not the end all. It is one element that helps me understand the world. Physics is a big part of who I am and it always will be. But, it has its place, it can’t answer everything. It complements, as does every other field of study. There is no contradiction for me. Natural science is a study of physical reality. Anything beyond the realm of physical reality is beyond the realm of natural science. It is just one of the complementary ways that we know and understand. Science helps me better appreciate who God is and what God has done. I can look at the sky with awe at its beauty and at the same time marvel at the understanding I have of God’s creation. My faith is strengthened by science."
This story talks about a group of women who are part of the Seminarian Tea Committee. Each year these praiseworthy women throw a tea party that raises enough funds to put put one person completely through seminary. This story came out last month but I though it was an appropriate story for Trini-tea Sunday.
Another story earlier in the week posted at Amy Welborn’s site was really joyful for me when I read it.
In fact, the seminarians at St. John Vianney in St. Paul were so jubilant on the day Cardinal Ratzinger was named pope that they got noise complaints from students and neighborhood residents.
After an evening Mass dedicated to Pope Benedict, rector Father Bill Baer led 80-some seminarians onto the roof of the seminary. The men yelled out the Apostle’s Creed and soon began to chant “Viva el Papa!”
“We were so loud that people in all the neighboring dorms started to stick their heads out the window,” said seminarian Stephen Nepil, 19. “They were like, ‘Yeah, Benedict!’
“It was a big deal in the seminary because we know how incredible of a pope he’ll be,” Nepil said. “We were so loud that we got noise complaints from the far end of the south campus. They sent security guards to take us off the roof.”
Now with all of this general positive news I wonder what this does for the Progressive meme about the need for married clergy and women’s ordination? I probably do not need much of an imagination to do this though. It will be treated like how some Democrats treated positive news of the economy leading up to the presidential election. I wonder if those who identify themselves as progressives will call this a priestess recovery?
This is so cool! And I’m not even Catholic.
Yahoo! (I’m clicking my heels like that Lucky Charms leprechaun!). Orthodox men, rise up and get going! This here’s an othodox gal who supports and loves you all the way.
And my beloved Chicago parish hasn’t been left out of the fun, either! This story deals with the 16 men ordained to be diocesan priests, but on Thursday, Deacon Brendan Gibson from St. John Cantius (www.cantius.org) will be ordained by Cardinal George to serve as a priest within the Society of St. John Cantius. It’s a solo act this year, but last year, the Society ordained two men.
And there’s more where that came from! (Clicks heels.)
Christina, I really, really like your site. And anyone with a lovely Irish name like Dunigan ought to be Catholic, me darlin’.
A crisis in vocations? Really?
An excellent article by Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester that outlines the actual rise in seminarians can be found here.
The correct Italian phrase for “Love Life the Pope” is “Viva IL papa”, not EL papa. Ciao, ragazzi!