Priests have deep desire to serve others and share their love for Christ and His redemptive mission. They’ve grown in their love for the sacraments. Most of all, priests take seriously their role in working for the salvation of souls.
On May 25, the Archdiocese of St. Louis will gain seven new priests, all of whom in their own ways exude these qualities. Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will confer the sacrament of Holy Orders upon these men at a 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Afterward, they will gather in the All Saints Chapel of the cathedral basilica, where they’ll receive their first assignments as priests for the archdiocese.
Of these men, four began their paths to the priesthood right after high school. Three studied subjects including engineering, physics and international relations, and in some cases embarked upon a career, before answering the call to a priestly vocation. Two of them have gone to Rome for specialized studies.
All of them will be united forever as the Class of 2019, as they kneel before Archbishop Carlson to become “in persona Christi” — meaning that by the virtue of the sacrament, they will be given the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ Himself.
Catholic St. Louis, meet your soon-to-be priests:
Age • 25
Family • Parents, Gary and Christine; three sisters, Hannah, Hilary, Natalie
Home Parish • St. Francis of Assisi, Oakville
Education • St. Francis of Assisi Grade School in Oakville; St. John Vianney High School; bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College; bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; currently working on a licentiate in moral theology at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.
First Mass of Thanksgiving •2 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 4556 Telegraph Road in Oakville
The call to the priesthood • “During my junior year of high school, I was encouraged by our then-associate pastor Father Chris Dunlap to begin coming to Mass during the week, which I did. By the end of the school year, I was going to daily Mass. I had fallen in love with the Eucharist and was soon in awe at the gift of the priesthood and what it meant — without Him, we don’t have the Eucharist or Confession, which are two precious treasures that Jesus uses to give us Himself. And so, the Lord began tugging on my heart a little bit.
“After having visited some 10 other colleges and remaining utterly uncertain about what I would do after high school, I was intent on “going and seeing.” In November of 2011, I walked onto the then-temporary seminary campus at St. Mary’s and felt a profound peace with my first steps into the building. It was only a daylong retreat, but by the end of it I was pretty well convinced that this was where God wanted me to be. And while I had grand plans in my own head, they all began to fade into the background, because I figured that if I had any confidence at all that God was asking me to do something, His plan would far better to follow than my own.
“I entered seminary in the fall of 2012. As it turns out, my love for the sacraments, the Church, and for God only grew more profoundly. That first year of seminary was a profound year of conversion and turning toward the Lord in every way, especially in growing to know and love Him and His plan for me.”
Age • 35
Family • Parents, Augustine and Grace; brother, Emmanuel; sister, Rita
Home parish • St. Augustine Church, St. Louis
Education •Ikot Ewa High School Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria and Hope Waddell Training Institution Calabar, Cross River State; Diploma in International Relations DIR, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria; studies in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College; master’s degree in divinity, Kenrick School of Theology
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
The call to the priesthood • “Sharing the joy of loving Jesus and the message of His redemptive mission is what brought me to the seminary. I was born and raised in the southern part of Nigeria (Cross River State). I experienced parental love and care; however, my parents initially disapproved of my chosen vocation to the priesthood. The Master of the vineyard had His way, and they eventually consented with joy and gratitude to God.
“The only thing that gives me joy in this world is to see my brothers and sisters outside the Church coming back, not as strangers, but as children returning to their Father’s house. To use the words of (former trafficking victim) Windie Lazenko, “I know what it is to be out there.” This is because I was once out there, that is, as a convert to Catholicism. It is beautiful to witness daily, our Lord’s desire being fulfilled through mere earthen vessels. “That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John, 17:21).
“It is humbling to be invited to participate in our Lord’s redemptive mission. For me, all that matters on the part of the one being called to serve his fellow brothers and sisters, is to remain an instrument of peace, joy, hope and love in the hands of our dearest Lord who is ever ready and willing to work His purpose in our life each day.”
Age • 39
Family •Parents, Patricia and William Madden; sisters, Colleen Madden-Blumenfeld, Mary Madden, Jane Goetz and Sarah Madden
Parish • Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in south St. Louis
Education • Immaculate Heart of Mary Grade School in south St. Louis (K-8); Christian Brothers College High School; bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla; studies in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College; master’s degree in divinity, Kenrick School of Theology
First Mass of Thanksgiving •10 a.m. Sunday, May 26, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 4092 Blow St. in south St. Louis
The call to the priesthood • “I first heard the call when I was 12, serving the Good Friday service at my parish. I was awed by the brotherhood and fraternity shown by the three priests in the parish, something I didn’t have growing up with four younger sisters. In high school, I was too immature to make the commitment to seminary. It wasn’t until Bishop Edward Rice’s consecration as a bishop that I started to re-discern the call to the priesthood. After a few more years of discernment, I entered the seminary.”
Age • 25
Family • Parents, Norm and Linda Ritter; sister, Sister Mary Francis, O. Praem. (formerly Rose Ritter)
Home Parish • St. Joseph Church, Josephville
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 3 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at St. Joseph Parish, 1410 Josephville Road in Josephville
Education • Assumption School in O’Fallon (K-2); Forest Park Elementary (3-5); Fort Zumwalt North Middle School (6-8); Fort Zumwalt North High School; bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College); bachelor’s degree in sacred theology (STB), Pontifical Gregorian University; master’s degree in divinity and master of arts degree in theology, Kenrick School of Theology
The call to the priesthood • “As a young grade schooler attending Mass, I was really inspired by the holiness of the priests I encountered in church. Their reverence planted a seed in my heart, and, with help from my parents and sister, I began to deepen my own relationship with our Lord, especially through eucharistic adoration and daily Mass.
“The more I prayed, the more God kept on raising the idea of the priesthood in my mind and in my heart, so much so, that at the end of my senior year of high school, I knew I had to enter seminary to discern the diocesan priesthood. Over the last seven years at the seminary I have had the privilege of being assigned to a number of wonderful parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and God has used these experiences and the formation of the seminary to further confirm His call for me to the priesthood.
“I look forward to spending my life working for the salvation of souls, and I am delighted to give myself completely to Him and His Church!”
Age • 27
Family • Parents, Dennis and Kathy; sister, Becky
Parish • St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Charles
Education • St. William School in Woodson Terrace (K-1); St. Norbert School in Florissant (2-8); De Smet Jesuit High School, Duchesne Catholic High School; bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College; master’s degree in divinity, Kenrick School of Theology
First Mass of Thanksgiving • 3 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 1014 Madison Ave. in Washington
The call to the priesthood • “Beyond a few thoughts of being a priest as a child, the idea of the priesthood went widely untouched throughout my grade school career, only spiking an interest for a couple of weeks each summer during Kenrick-Glennon Days, which turned out to be a major influence in my vocation.
“I was invited to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua with the Incarnate Word youth group. This trip taught the invaluable lesson of what love is. These people had nothing, yet they were so authentically joyful because they had love. I had a profound encounter with God’s love. I came back to the United States and knew what I had to do. I applied for seminary, was accepted, and nine years later am seeing the fruit of the seeds planted when I was younger.
“During my pastoral year at Our Lady of Lourdes in Washington, I learned what it means to be a priest, how to love the people well. I am so indebted to that parish and St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, where I just wrapped up my year as a transitional deacon. I want everyone I encounter to experience the power of God’s love, just like I had the opportunity to, and I can’t wait to be a catalyst of that love for years to come.”
Age • 29
Family •Parents, Julie and Joel; brothers, Frank, Keith and Kurt; sister, Claire
Parish • Mary Queen of Peace, Webster Groves
Education • Mary Queen of Peace School in Webster Groves; Saint Louis University High School; bachelor’s degree in engineering, double major in chemical engineering and physics, Vanderbilt University; one year of teaching at De Smet Jesuit High School (2013); studies in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College; bachelor’s degree in sacred theology, Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; currently working on a licentiate in biblical theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
First Mass of Thanksgiving •9 a.m. Sunday, May 26, at Mary Queen of Peace Church, 676 W. Lockwood Ave. in Webster Groves
The call to the priesthood • “I remember wanting to be a priest when I was in fourth grade, 10 years old. It seemed like the kind of “imagination” that kids have when growing up — firefighter, pilot, astronaut — but it never went away, and it settled into a kind of “that’s what I want to do when I grow up.” I was especially drawn to the Mass. I loved to serve Mass. I would sign up for funerals and other Masses that servers were not scheduled for. I started going to daily Mass on some days before school when I was in seventh grade, which I kept up through high school.
“All through high school I expected I would go to seminary when I graduated — I figured I would go to the Jesuit novitiate. But my mom wanted me to go to university. So I applied to different schools and ended up with a great offer at Vanderbilt. We had a fantastic chaplaincy, and I am very grateful to the chaplain, the FOCUS team, and the rest of the staff for the good place they helped to create at Vanderbilt while I was there.
“I attended a Jesuit Come-and-See weekend at Saint Louis University, and it became clear to me while I was there that I was not supposed to apply to the Jesuits. So I applied to Kenrick-Glennon, and I’ve been very happy and confident that I am in the right place ever since. It’s great finally to have reached the end!”
Age • 26
Family • Parents: Jay and Martha; brothers, Daniel, Thomas, Christopher; sister, Madeleine
Home Parish • St. Clement of Rome Church, Des Peres
Education • Homeschool (K-7); St. Clement School in Des Peres (eighth grade); Saint Louis University High School (2010); bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Cardinal Glennon College; bachelor’s degree in sacred theology (STB), Pontifical Gregorian University; master’s degree in divinity and master of arts degree in theology, Kenrick School of Theology
First Mass of Thanksgiving •5:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at St. Clement of Rome Church, 1510 Bopp Road in Des Peres
The call to the priesthood • “I started thinking about the priesthood when I was in seventh grade after receiving the sacrament of confirmation and going on my first retreat. Though at the time I didn’t know what the priesthood meant, I had a deep desire to serve other people. In my junior year of high school, I went on another retreat, which kindled my love for Jesus and my desire to serve Him and His Church as a priest.
“I entered seminary after graduating high school in 2010 and have continued to grow in knowledge and love of God and the Church over my past nine years in seminary formation.”
>> Priesthood ordination
WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 25
WHERE: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue in the Central West End
MORE INFO: Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will confer the sacrament of Holy Orders upon seven men for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Eight other men who have studied at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary also will be ordained for the priesthood. To learn more about them, visit www.kenrick.edu/ordinations.