By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — It isn’t unusual for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to be full for an ordination.
Even on the rare occasions when they occur during Christmastime, it is not extraordinary to see the people, priests, deacons and consecrated women religious join family and friends to celebrate a new priest and a new deacon.
But the Dec. 17 ordination of Father Sean McCaffery to the diocesan priesthood and Deacon Darvin Salazar to the transitional diaconate was different.
Neither man had lifetime ties of family and friends to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph that most ordinands have. In fact, both were new arrivals within the last four years, McCaffery a native of Oklahoma, Salazar from Guatemala.
And still they came. Some 46 priests, two bishops, 18 deacons, two dozen Knights of Columbus, members of the World Apostolate of Fatima and of Mission Possible, and hundreds of people who paused during the last hectic weekend before Christmas to celebrate the gift of two men intending to give their lives to the service of the church.
And the crowd that filled the cathedral to the choir loft included Hugh and Carole McCaffery, parents of Father Sean, and Pedro Antonio Salazar Monroy and Julia Antionia Monroy de Salazar, parents of Deacon Darvin.
And they came for one purpose with Advent entering its final week, Bishop Robert W. Finn told the congregation with Bishop Emeritus Raymond J. Boland at his side.
“With trust in the promise of the Lord Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we come together this morning so that God may transform these men into instruments of his Gospel, announcing truth and life and love to all hearts; glad tidings of salvation, healing and strength; to release those who are bound; to comfort all who mourn,” Bishop Finn said in his homily.
“This is the work of the Anointed One, Jesus, and today this new life and gracious mission is extended to a new deacon and a new priest for our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph,” he said.
Deacon Salazar’s parents said it was their honor to be there that morning, as they gave their son to a diocese far from their home in Santa Rosa, Guatemala.
“We are so proud of him because of the path he has chosen to take,” his mother told The Catholic Key through an interpreter.
His father also thanked Bishop Finn and the diocese for helping them obtain travel visas to come to Kansas City.
“It was easy because the diocese recommended us,” he said, also through an interpreter. “Ever since Darvin was a little kid, he loved the things of the Lord.”
Deacon Salazar also thanked the diocese, in flawless English.
“And when I say, ‘diocese,’ I mean all the people for everything they have done for me since I arrived here, and especially to the people of Holy Cross Parish. That was the first parish I went to when I came to the United States,” he said.
Bishop Finn had special words, in Spanish, for Pedro and Julia, on the occasion of not only their son’s ordination, but his 27th birthday on the very same day.
“Your son has the marvelous heart of a missionary,” he told them. “We thank you for sharing your son with our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.”
Bishop Finn also thanked the McCaffery family for their gift of their son and brother, the seminaries that formed both men, and the work of the diocesan Vocations Office, and to the “many friends who have prayed for them, encouraged them, and given them good example.”
And above all, he thanked God whose call to ordination brought “two more worthy helpers in the work of the church.”
“Thank you for the vocations of these two men, for the grace of Holy Orders, for the unity of the church, for the care God has for his people,” he said.
The call to priesthood is indeed sacred, Bishop Finn told Father McCaffery shortly before his ordination.
“You must seek with all your heart to be a holy priest,” he said.
“Pray every day — if possible before the Most Blessed Sacrament. And realize how God calls you, like the grain of wheat, to give yourself and to make sacrifices for others, serving them with sincere and unselfish love, whether convenient or inconvenient,” Bishop Finn said.
“Be fully a priest, and resolve to live faithfully every day the promises you make with God’s grace,” he said.
Bishop Finn also reminded the diocese’s newest priest and newest deacon that the Holy Family is a source of strength and inspiration.
“Brothers Darvin and Sean, I commend you both to our Blessed Mother,” he said. “May Mary and Joseph take care of these sons just as they watched over our Lord himself,” he said. “May the glorious communion of saints and angels join us in our prayer.”