By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — No priests, no Mass, no Eucharist.
Bishop Robert W. Finn took special pride May 24 in ordaining four men for the “indispensable” ministry of priesthood for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The diocese’s newest priests are:
• Father John Robert Fitzpatrick, who has been assigned to St. Andrew Parish in Gladstone, and to St. Pius X High School in Kansas City, north.
• Father Leonard Gicheru, who has been assigned to Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Kansas City.
• Father Daniel Christopher Gill, who has been assigned to St. John LaLande Parish in Blue Springs.
• Father Eric Anthony Schneider, who has been assigned to Cathedral of St. Joseph and pastoral care of St. Patrick Parish in St. Joseph.
“Jesus Christ calls us together today to carry out a great work of sanctification and ministry,” Bishop Finn told the congregation and the newly ordained priests in his homily.
“It is his church, his work, his grace and mercy in the hearts of these four men that is the cause of our celebration,” he said.
“The love of a priest continues in a supernatural and efficacious way the love of Jesus the High Priest,” he said. “It accomplishes something beyond human measure in the faithful who are served.”
Bishop Finn urged the congregation to pray for these men, and also to pray for more men to be called and to respond like they did.
“Because the ministry of the ordained priest is indispensable, pray also that more men will be called by God to the priesthood, and that they will respond to this vocation with generosity and trust,” Bishop Finn said.
At the center of their ministry is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he said.
“No other source of spiritual life and strength is as important to you as the Mass,” Bishop Finn said.
“I say this to all of us as priests, determine to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day. It is one of the most important reasons Jesus Christ established his Holy Order of Priests of the New Covenant.
“The Eucharist renews the Lord’s sacrifice and applies its fruits for the sake of the whole people of God, living and dead,” he said.
“The Eucharist is necessary for the life of the world, and Jesus entrusted it uniquely to us as priests. The (Second Vatican) Council teaches with such clarity: The Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and summit of the whole Christian life. It is the source of the priest’s pastoral love,” Bishop Finn said.
But there are other duties that only an ordained priest can perform, he said.
“One of our most privileged priestly duties is as minister of the Sacrament of Penance,” Bishop Finn said.
“In confession, you will forgive sins and foster reconciliation with the people of God,” he said. “Make clear to the faithful that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a vital part of your life. Love confession for the sake of your own sanctification and as an opportunity to extend the Father’s mercy to others. Be available to God’s people in this sacrament and they will come to you, drawn by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
Bishop Finn urged the new priests to “promote the dignity and respect for all human life from its inception until natural death.”
“Support with particular zeal those persons who have no voice of their own: the unborn, those with special needs, the aged and the dying,” he said.
“Be in solidarity with those who suffer injustices in our society, those who are the target of prejudice, the poor, the migrant and the refugee,” he said.
“Defend the integrity of marriage and the family which are at the core of our society,” Bishop Finn said.
“These teachings of the church stand in sharp contrast to the prevailing culture. With gentle and persevering love, and even ready to share in the suffering of Christ, you must guard the meaning and central importance of this union of Holy Matrimony which God has designed to bring children into the world and nurture them in security and sanctity,” Bishop Finn said.
“Many couples, seeking to live faithfully the church’s teachings on the transmission of human life, look to you for encouragement and support. Lead them and walk with them as spiritual fathers and guides,” he said.
Bishop Finn told the new priests that celibacy is a special source of grace “by which you are free to give yourself completely to the church with an undivided heart.”
“In this way, it will be clear to you that you belong entirely to Jesus Christ and your love for others will be at the same time deeply personal and all-embracing,” he said.
“By your example you will inspire others to live an outgoing love which is pure and joyful,” he said.
Bishop Finn reminded the new priests that there are two special saints they can always depend upon.
“Be close to Mary, to whom our Lord entrusted us all at the foot of the cross,” he said. “She is the mother of the High Priest. She is the mother of all priests.
“When your pastoral duties weigh upon you, ask St. Joseph, guardian of the Redeemer, patron of the universal church and our diocesan patron, to help you carry the load without becoming discouraged,” Bishop Finn said.