On May 29, Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski ordained six men to the priesthood for service in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Fathers Charles Archer, Mitchell Baer, Joseph Detwiler, Edward Godefroid, Jonathan Ruzicka and Ryan Truss were called upon by the archbishop to serve as “bold prophets of God’s love” as they begin their service to the people of God and His Church.
The six new priests underwent several years of study and spiritual development during their years of seminary formation. But those years of formation are just the beginning of a life of service to Christ and His Church.
“In a world still dealing with effects of COVID-19 virus, divisions of so many kinds and lack of the sense of the sacred, it is necessary more than ever to be bold prophets of God’s love in witnessing the divine healing power bestowed by God upon His people,” said Archbishop Rozanski at his first ordination of archdiocesan priests since coming to St. Louis in August of 2020. “As priests, dear brothers, you will forgive the sins of the repentant, counsel those who are lost, anoint those who are in the throes of illness and bring the Eucharist to God’s people as they gather for Mass.”
The men followed the calling in different ways, but they all share a common desire to follow God’s will and share the joy of the Gospel of Christ with others through their priestly ministry.
At the Mass of ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome on April 25, Pope Francis reminded the priests that their vocation should have a “style of closeness, a style of compassion and a style of tenderness,” to God’s people.
We are called to support our priests in their mission of guiding the Church and being a servant in the imitation of Jesus. We also must support vocations.
Data gathered by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) shows that members of the 2021 class of men ordained to the priesthood — diocesan and religious order priests — report that they were, on average, about 17 when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood. Nine in ten responding ordinands (93%) reported being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life — most frequently, the parish priest, a friend or another parishioner.
Between 38% and 44% of all responding ordinands attended a Catholic school on the K-12 and/or college level. Three in five responding ordinands (62%) participated in a religious education program in their parish, for seven years on average. One in seventeen responding ordinands (6%) reported being home schooled.
Seven in ten responding ordinands participated in Eucharistic adoration (74%) on a regular basis before entering the seminary, a similar proportion (74%) prayed the Rosary. And half of responding ordinands (49%) report participating in a “Come and See” weekend at the seminary or the religious institute/society.
These are ordinary men who are extraordinary in their faith and in the support they have received in developing that faith. We must keep up that support.
The messianic prophet Isaiah was called to “encourage the people of God at a difficult period,” Archbishop Rozanski said at the ordination Mass. Facing exile, they needed to hear words of hope and assurance that God never forgets His people. “To those who felt abandoned, these words engendered a hope that seemed to be lost and encouragement to a people in the midst of despair.”
Similarly in our current culture — and still in the midst of a pandemic — these priests serve as signs of hope for the Church.
“That should give us tremendous hope that God is still providing His people with these men — with these priests — to go into the depths of human misery, the depths of the darkness of each human heart that we all have, and to bring light and to bring truth,” said Father Jonathan Ruzicka.
“It’s about all of us here as a Church together celebrating the triumph of Jesus in this day,” said Father Mitchell Baer.