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Fathers Joseph Martin, Robert Lawson and Jeffrey Fennewald lay prostrate during the litany of supplication during the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood on May 25 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Fathers Joseph Martin, Robert Lawson and Jeffrey Fennewald lay prostrate during the litany of supplication during the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood on May 25 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

New priests are called to serve as instruments of hope, healing and unity in the Church

Fathers Jeffrey Fennewald, Robert Lawson and Joseph Martin ordained to the priesthood May 25

Archbishop Rozanski placed his hands on Father Joseph Martin’s head during the laying on of hands at the ordination Mass.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Three men ordained to the sacred priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis were called upon to be instruments of healing, hope and unity and to serve as a welcoming presence to all in God’s Church.

Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski conferred the sacrament of Holy Orders upon Fathers Jeffrey Fennewald, Robert Lawson and Joseph Martin May 25 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

The service of a priest may only be accomplished through the gift of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus — the same Spirit at work in the world’s creation and who continues to recreate the ministry of Jesus through the Church, the archbishop said.

Referring to the morning’s Gospel in which Peter is about to begin his ministry after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, the archbishop noted that the Lord connected Peter’s love for Him with the ministry of caring for the flock.

“For each priest, that commitment to serve God’s people is integrally connected with the commitment to prayer,” he said. Just as a husband and wife recommit themselves to each other every day in love,

Archbishop Rozanski anointed Father Robert Lawson’s hands with Sacred Chrism during the ordination Mass.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
“the same

dynamic of love is at work in our priestly commitment to following the Lord Jesus in His Church.”

As highlighted in the first reading, the prophet Isaiah also speaks of the Spirit of God, who is sent into the world to bring healing and hope to the world. “It is into this same prophetic tradition that these men will be ordained, bringing healing and hope to God’s people, who in every age are weighed down by the human condition of sin,” the archbishop said. “God’s people desire to hear the good news of salvation, to be lifted up by this message, found in the Lord Jesus.”

Blessed hands, blessed hearts

Family and friends offered their well wishes and received blessings from the newly ordained after Mass at a reception held at Boland Hall. For many, it was a jubilant day filled with tears of joy, including Father Lawson’s mother, Mary Anne Barnhart, and grandmother, Rosemary West.

“Robbie? I call him my blessed hands — that’s what he is,” said West. “He’s just blessed, keeps the family together. His grandpa, who passed away not too long ago, made sure that everybody had a Catholic education and went to Mass every Sunday.”

Barnhart, who was beaming with pride for her son, said she knew that he was destined to the priesthood. “Since second grade he’s said he was going to become a priest,” she said. “I’m just overwhelmed and full of joy. I hope that he stays full of joy and compassion and helps everyone that he can.”

“And he will — I have no doubt,” West said.

Archbishop emeritus Robert J. Carlson kissed a hand of newly-ordained Father Jeffrey Fennewald after Father Fennewald gave Archbishop Carlson a first blessing May 25 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
As she observed her son giving his first priestly blessings, Nancy Fennewald said there’s no doubt in her mind he’s going to do great things and serve the Church well. “He loves the elderly, the youth — he loves Jesus Christ,” she said. “It’s so easy for him to serve God’s people. He’s where he belongs — he’s happy. I can’t hope for anything more. He’s already there.”

Members of Father Martin’s family were all (happy) tears as they greeted him in the reception line. His father, Dr. Jeff Martin, said he’s been in awe the whole day and has been looking forward to the day his son became a priest.

“I hope he is able to bring souls to the Lord,” he said. “I think he’s able to relate to people very well. Hopefully he will be a mentor to the upcoming seminarians as well. I know he’s going to do a lot.”

Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski spoke to a crowd while announcing parish assignments for the new priests, from left, Fathers Jeffrey Fennewald, Robert Lawson and Joseph Martin on May 25 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis in St. Louis.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand

A look at the Mass of Ordination
Photo Credits: Graphics by Abigail Witte

Mass begins

The Mass begins in the usual way with the introductory rites and Liturgy of the Word

Election of the candidates

At the beginning of the rite of ordination, the vocations director stands before the archbishop and testifies to the candidates’ worthiness for ordination.

The Archbishop says: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood.” The congregation responds with, “Thanks be to God,” and all who are present give their assent to the choice by means of applause.


The Archbishop gives his homily, relating the scripture readings to the priests’ new vocation

Promise of the elect and promise of obedience

In the presence of God and the whole Church, the candidates declare their willingness to undertake the responsibilities of the ministerial priesthood. Placing their hands between those of the Archbishop, the candidates promise respect and obedience to the Archbishop of St. Louis and his successors.

Litany of supplication

As the candidates prostrate themselves, all unite their voices with the Church universal in praying for God’s grace and mercy for those to be ordained to the priesthood. The men lay prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary, while the congregation prays for the intercession of the saints for God’s grace and mercy.

Laying on of hands

The archbishop imposes 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 then take turns doing the same as a sign of unity. The archbishop then says the prayer of ordination, asking for each man to be configured to the person of Christ.

The prayer of ordination

The Archbishop extends his hands over the candidates, recalling God’s plan of salvation in which God has continually provided ministers for service of His people. He prays that God grant the candidates the dignity of the same priesthood.

Investiture with stole and chasuble

The newly ordained priests are now vested with the priest’s stole and chasuble, the outward liturgical signs of their new office in the Church.

Anointing of hands

The Archbishop anoints the hands of the newly ordained with Sacred Chrism, consecrating them for their priestly ministry of building up the Body of Christ and presiding at the celebration of the Eucharist.

The handing on of bread and wine

The bread and wine are brought forward for the celebration of the Eucharist. They are presented to the newly ordained by the Archbishop, who exhorts them to model their lives on the mystery of the cross, and to imitate the mystery they celebrate.

Kiss of peace

The Archbishop shares the sign of peace with the newly ordained priests. All priests present also exchange the sign of peace.

The Mass continues

The newly ordained then join with the Archbishop for the celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Communion and the concluding rites.

From the program for the Mass of Ordination May 25 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

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