Five men ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis were called upon to live totally for Christ in service to His people.
Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski conferred the sacrament of Holy Orders upon Fathers Allen Boedeker, Jacob Braun, Joshua Deters, Ryan Quarnstrom and Jacob Wessel on May 27 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. A standing-room-only crowd joined in praying for them as they commenced their vocational calling.
These men “have embraced the vocation of being disciples of the Lord, ready to give of themselves completely to service to His people,” Archbishop Rozanski told them in his homily.
Years ago at a priesthood ordination, the archbishop remembered hearing a veteran priest tell one of the newly ordained: “Welcome to the greatest adventure of life — the priesthood!’”
“This is the greatest adventure,” Archbishop Rozanski told the men, “to walk with the Lord Jesus in ministering to His people, to bring His presence to them in the sacraments and particularly the Eucharist.”
As priests celebrated the sacraments for the edification of God’s people, they were reminded that God chose them to bring the presence of Christ to others through their words and example.
“Live totally for Christ, commit yourselves to serving His people by the grace of sacred ordination,” Archbishop Rozanski said.
Rite of ordination
At the beginning of the rite of ordination, Father Brian Fallon, vocations director for the archdiocese, stood before the archbishop and testified to the candidates’ worthiness for ordination. The congregation responded with a resounding round of applause.
The candidates then approached the archbishop one by one and declared their willingness to undertake the responsibilities of the priesthood and their obedience to the archbishop and his successors.
One of the highlights of the rite is the Litany of Supplication, also known as the Litany of Saints, in which the men lay prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary, and the congregation prayed for the intercession of the saints for God’s grace and mercy for those to be ordained.
The archbishop imposed his hands on the head of each ordinand, conferring the power of the Holy Spirit through a prayer of consecration. All priests at the Mass took turns laying hands on the men, symbolizing that they were being ordained into the presbyteral college of the local Church. The archbishop then said the prayer of ordination, asking for each man to be configured to the person of Christ.
Afterward, the new priests were vested with the stole and chasuble, the priest’s vestments. Archbishop Rozanski anointed the hands of each man with the sacred chrism oil, which symbolizes the priest’s participation in the priesthood of Christ through the sacrifices of his hands.
Prayers and well-wishes
Family and friends offered their well wishes and received blessings from the newly ordained after Mass at a reception held at Rosati-Kain Academy.
Father Braun’s mother, Maureen Braun, beamed as she watched her son offer blessings to a long line of well-wishers snaking through the gymnasium. She long had a feeling that her son would become a priest someday.
Before Jacob was born, Maureen lost a baby to miscarriage. When she became pregnant with Jacob, “I prayed to God and said, ‘Lord if you let this baby live, I offer him or her for the service of the Church,’” she recalled. By the age of 4, he told his mom that he wanted to become Pope Peter the Second someday.
“I always felt like that was his temperament: so happy and joyful,” she recalled. “He always told us, ‘I’m constantly praying for my vocation.’”
Several of Father Boedeker’s former classmates from St. Joan of Arc School (class of 1970) said that his call to ministry has always been evident.
“We’re so proud of him — it’s such an unselfish thing, but it’s typical of Allen,” said Jeanne Dale. “He’s always been that way. We knew he was going to become a priest.”
Their hopes for Father Boedeker’s future priesthood include “that he prays for us,” said classmate Gus Koebbe. “We’ve got an in now.”
Father Wessel’s younger sister, Emily Wessel, said she is excited to see what comes of her brother’s calling to the priesthood. “He has a great love for God, and I know he will bring a lot of people to Him,” she said. “He’s great for the youth, and he’s such a great role model.”
Brian Donohue met Father Deters when they worked at a restaurant. Donohue had a front-row seat to his friend’s conversion of faith. “I was there the day he went to the Catholic Men for Christ conference, and that was the beginning of his conversion,” he said. Donohue added that he hopes Father Deters will become an instrument for the conversion of souls through his priesthood.
Delaney Dickey and Nicolette Lograsso have known Father Quarnstrom since they were in high school youth group at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville. They said he was born to be a priest.
“I remember a time we went to Catholic Supply before he got into the seminary, and he was looking at all of the priests’ stuff, he was so excited,” Lograsso said.
“I hope that he has many happy years of priesthood and that he touches a lot of people’s lives,” Dickey said.
Deacon Allen Boedeker
Family • Children, Carolyn Kleen, Jen Green, David Mundy, Paul Mundy and Robert Boedeker; and 10 grandchildren. Deacon Boedeker was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, whom he’d been married to for 38 years.
Home Parish • St. Andrew in Lemay
Education • St. Louis Preparatory Seminary-South, Cardinal Glennon College and Kenrick School of Theology; master’s degree in theological studies from St. Meinrad School of Theology; master’s of divinity from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 4 p.m. Saturday, May 27, at St. Andrew in Lemay
The call to the priesthood • Deacon Boedeker felt called to ordained ministry in the sixth grade. He attended the seminary but left and eventually married his wife, Mary, and started a family. In 1997, he was ordained a permanent deacon, serving at Most Precious Blood Parish in St. Louis and later at St. Andrew Parish in Lemay. In 2011, he became parish administrator at St. Andrew, overseeing the parish’s day-to-day pastoral and operational needs.
Mary passed away in 2019. Several months later, he retired from a 30-year career teaching theology at St. Louis University High School and entered Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. His family wasn’t surprised about his return to the seminary.
“It’s a call, and I’m answering it,” Deacon Boedeker said. “I’ve heard priests say that we are invited into people’s lives, in good times and in bad. And they rarely remember what we say; they almost always remember that we were there. It’s a ministry of presence.”
He said he greatly respects celibacy within the priesthood, having experienced the tug between marriage and ministry as a deacon. But he hopes his experience of marriage will serve him well as he ministers to the laity as a priest.
“I’ve always said I have used every single bit of life experience in education, in my life, in my ministry — and I am hoping that will continue,” he said.
Deacon Jacob Braun
Family • Parents, Michael and Maureen; siblings, Darrel, Anna and Rachel
Home Parish • Immaculate Conception in Union
Education • Homeschool, East Central College, Missouri S&T, Kenrick-Glennon Pre-Theology Program, bachelor’s degree in philosophy; master’s degree in divinity from Kenrick School of Theology, bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 1 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at Immaculate Conception in Union
The call to the priesthood • Priesthood had been on Deacon Braun’s mind from an early age. He more seriously discerned his vocation in college. He inquired with the archdiocesan Vocations Office and prayed that God would give him a concrete sign of what to do. While attending Mass, the visiting priest said at the end: “If anyone is looking for a sign they should enter seminary, this is it,” Deacon Braun recalled.
Since entering the seminary, he’s discovered that it’s not just one big sign from God that’s supposed to convince him toward the priesthood. “It’s had to be a continual commitment,” he said. “It’s had to be something I renew constantly. I realize I have to rely on God.”
Through preaching in the past year as a transitional deacon at St. Joseph Parish in Imperial, Deacon Braun’s homilies changed. People were receptive to homilies strong in teaching, but they also wanted to hear what was in his heart.
“I give what I receive, and in trying to help people come into contact with Jesus, I can only do that to the extent that I’ve come into contact with Jesus in those places in my heart that need it the most,” he said. “What that means when I am preaching, to some degree, is that I have to open up those places to people in an appropriate way.”
Deacon Braun said his priesthood won’t be defined by what he is capable of, but “it’s a supernatural vocation … ultimately all of the strength and power comes from Jesus.”
It’s been “a tremendous joy in the ministry seeing God doing things through my own humanity,” he said.
Deacon Joshua Deters
Family • Parents, Kelly Barban and Stephen Deters
Home Parish • St. Joseph in Cottleville
Education • Fort Zumwalt West High School, Missouri State University, Lindenwood University (bachelor’s degree in economics), Kenrick-Glennon Pre-Theology Program, bachelor’s degree in philosophy; master’s in divinity from Kenrick School of Theology
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 5 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral)
The call to the priesthood • Deacon Deters was baptized Catholic but fell away from the Church as a young man. An encounter with new friends in college led him back to the faith, but then God took it one step further, calling him to the priesthood.
As a priest, he most anticipates changes in his relationships with others. “There will be a lot of things that priest does that will be new, like confessions, celebrating Mass and being at a parish full time,” he said. But it’s also “being a father, and being that representative of Christ to people.”
This past year at Holy Infant Parish in Ballwin gave him a good taste of what it’s like to preach at Masses. “It’s really a sharing of yourself with people,” he said. “You want to give them something to take home, something that might stick with them. I experienced a lot of love from people in the midst of that. Sometimes people say, ‘I thought about that all week long, what you said.’ Or, ‘I felt like you were talking right to me.’ It’s like, alright — the spirit is really working here and moving within people’s hearts.”
People continue to ask him those common questions: Are you excited? Do you know where you’re going? Are you counting down the days?
“The reality of it is so profound, everything we have put into this,” Deacon Deters said. “It’s hard to describe the anticipation. The nature of the priesthood is offering a sacrifice of your life.”
Deacon Ryan Quarnstrom
Family • Parents, Thomas and Stephanie; brother, Nicholas
Home Parish • St. Joseph in Cottleville
Education • St. Joseph School in Cottleville, De Smet Jesuit High School, bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College Seminary, master’s degrees in divinity and theology from Kenrick School of Theology, bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 3:15 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at St. Joseph in Cottleville
The call to the priesthood • The priests at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville Dominicans) were among the early influences in Deacon Quarnstrom’s call to the priesthood.
His favorite part of being a transitional deacon was preaching at Masses. He also loved working as a team with the other priests at Incarnate Word Parish in Chesterfield this past year, witnessing the role of spiritual fatherhood.
During Holy Week, the transitional deacons made a retreat and reflected on the promises they will make at priesthood ordination. “One talks about how the archbishop asks if we’re resolved with Christ to be consecrated to God for the salvation of all,” Deacon Quarnstrom said. “That takes a lot of different forms, and it’s owning yourself, embracing weakness, putting yourself out there and trusting the Lord with the fruit.”
Any new priest will answer that they are most excited about ministering through the sacraments. Deacon Quarnstrom added, “I am most excited to tell others that God is faithful. Throughout my whole life, He’s always been faithful to me.”
In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John say that it’s impossible for them not to speak about what they have seen and heard. “Now Jesus sends us out into the world to tell others what we have seen,” Deacon Quarnstrom said.
Similarly, he sees that calling within his priesthood: “I have seen God work in my life, and I have seen Him call me and hear His voice,” he said. “In the seminary, that grows and you learn how to listen to that voice.”
Deacon Jacob Wessel
Family • Parents, Richard and Marlyn; siblings, Paul, Michael, Rebecca and Emily
Home Parish • St. Gianna in Wentzville
Education • St. John Bosco Homeschool Co-op, bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College, master’s degree in divinity from Kenrick School of Theology, bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 3 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at St. Gianna in Wentzville
The call to the priesthood • The seeds of a vocation were planted early for Deacon Wessel. By his senior year of high school, he realized the priesthood was on his heart.
“This thought of giving myself totally to God in this way, and in particular in a way that I could invite other people to that relationship (with God) through giving the sacraments to others,” he said, “it was very attractive to me. I decided I’ve got to give this a chance.”
Deacon Wessel spent his transitional diaconate year at Ste. Genevieve Parish in Ste. Genevieve. He got to know parishioners and spent time at Valle Catholic School. He got to know some students better through running with the cross country team. He also visited grade school students, where he shared more about his vocation and his anticipated ordination to the priesthood.
During that year, he’s learned a lot about preaching — that is, sharing the word of God through the readings while also showing how the Lord speaks through daily life. “When I am able to bring how God’s working in my life into the homily, it organically happens,” he said. “I can preach confidently and the truth of the Gospel when that happens — and I’ve gotten the best response when that is happening.”
He’s been humbled by the trust of God’s people and looks forward to serving the Lord through his priesthood. “It’s seeing their efforts to respond to the Holy Spirit in their lives and realizing that’s how I view spiritual fatherhood,” he said. “It’s being with someone, but letting the true Father speak to them through my role as a transitional deacon” and soon as a priest.
WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 27
WHERE: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, 4431 Lindell Blvd. in St. Louis
MORE INFO: Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski will confer the sacrament of Holy Orders upon five men for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Mass will be livestreamed at cathedralstl.org.
Additionally, seven men from other dioceses who have studied at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary will be ordained for the priesthood in May and June. To learn more about them, visit www.kenrick.edu/ordinations.
To read the vocation stories of the four men from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, visit stlreview.com/3M4zyRJ
To learn more about Deacon Allen Boedeker’s vocation story, see stlreview.com/3BPydLf