By Kenneth Newton
Special to The Catholic Key
ST. JOSEPH – The new priest, Father Mark V. Yates, said the line knowing those who heard it would understand fully.
“I appreciate everyone who has been a part of my formation,” he said, adding, “It’s been a very long one.”
With that, a couple of hundred people laughed, a punctuation of joy for his rite of ordination.
These families and friends who gathered at St. Francis Xavier Parish on May 5 knew the journey he traveled to the priesthood. In the presence of priests and brothers of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, the candidate promised his obedience and accepted the blessing of those present to support him.
Father Yates, whose first assignment will be at this St. Joseph parish, as an associate pastor, said he had wanted to be a priest since age 5. Having grown up in Wichita, Kan., he became a high school seminarian under the Precious Blood ministry but, during college, asked to leave formation.
“That journey ended up being 20 years before I came back,” the new priest said after the rite.
Urged by the Holy Spirit, he asked the Precious Blood community to come back into formation. He was embraced as his graduate studies continued. Last June, he became a deacon while serving at St. Francis Xavier, then came his ordination.
“When I asked to come back into formation, they were the first ones I looked to,” Father Yates said of his Precious Blood brothers. “They were very welcoming. It was like I hadn’t been gone.”
He called the day a celebration of “God’s wonderful work and God’s surprises in our lives.”
The Most Rev. Joseph L. Charron, bishop emeritus of the Des Moines Diocese and the primary celebrant, called Father Yates’ ordination “a gift” to the church, the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese and the Precious Blood community.
He directed the new priest to strive for a life of holiness, humility and service.
“To be a holy priest is to be the best priest you can be,” the bishop emeritus said.
After the ordination, Bishop Charron said priests must not only recognize their own failings but be willing to ask for forgiveness, knowing God’s love remains steadfast.
In addition, he cited the Last Supper as Christ’s example of the service all priests are called to.
“Jesus, he didn’t pick and choose,” the bishop emeritus said. “He washed the feet of those who hurt him deeply, betrayed him and denied him.”
Watching the rites from the front row were the new priest’s parents, William and Maxine Yates. His brother and sister, Brad Yates and Susan Yates, took part in the service, presenting the gifts of bread and wine.
During the rite’s laying on of hands, 19 priests came forward to empower Father Yates in this ancient tradition of the apostles.
Among them was Father Vince Wirtner, director of vocation ministries for the Cincinnati province in Ohio. He said the ordination rite proves a cause for celebration for all members of the priesthood.
“We’re professing our life to the service of the church, so we renew our own vows, too,” he said.