By Fr. Pachomius Meade, O.S.B.
Special to The Catholic Key
At the end of his ordination banquet Fr. Macario Martinez-Arjona shared a story about his late mother with the gathering of Conception monks, his family and friends. While confined to her sickbed Rachel Martinez phoned her son at theological seminary to ask him a question. She had been watching a priestly ordination on EWTN and noticed that in the rite the bishop put oil on the ordinand’s hands. And she asked the then-Br. Macario, “Miho, are they going to put oil on your hands too?” He replied in the affirmative, explaining that this was the sign that the priest will use his hands to continue the ministry of Jesus and when the bishop puts his hands around his afterwards that he was a priest forever. To this reply, his mother said, “Good, I’m glad.”
The future Fr. Macario first came to Conception Abbey in 2001, spurred on by two female friends at Fort Hays State University who were coming to the graduation of a friend at Conception Seminary. He knew the moment he stepped into the Abbey Basilica that this place would play a part in his life, though he was not sure that it would necessarily be joining the monastic community. After completing the pre-theology program at CSC, he entered the monastery and professed vows in 2004.
It has taken a few stops and starts for him to make it to Holy Orders, but he says that he is grateful for extra time. “It was a long time, yes, but it was an opportunity for growth.” He explains, “It was about formation and not a race to get done.” Archbishop Jerome Hanus, O.S.B., reaffirmed this notion in his admonition homily during the ordination Mass, stating, “Ordination is not just something that you have long looked forward to. Others have observed and helped you grow in fitness.” He then acknowledged the monastic formation he received, that of his formators at St. Meinrad Seminary and the foundation given him by his parents.
In preparation for the ordination homily, Archbishop Jerome and Fr. Macario met to discuss the Scripture texts together. They arrived at the connection between monastic consecration and the vocation of a priest as a path to holiness.
“Priesthood means dying to self and rising with Christ to a life of virtue and sacrificial service. If a priest monk practices this in community, he will be more ready to help the needy in the wider church and in the world,” stated the archbishop. “Using the expressions found in the Letter to the Ephesians, priest monks can do this by serving as ‘pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists’ and even apostles.”
Fr. Macario’s upcoming ministry will include teaching in the seminary’s Language, Culture & Church program, where seminarians – mostly Spanish-speaking – are taught English. However, being a pastor to the men adjusting to life in a new country and culture will be essential for effective language mastery. Fr. Macario is Conception Abbey’s first priest fluent in Spanish. Speaking of this fact he says, “It is significant and I wish more of our priests in the community spoke Spanish.” He adds matter-of-factly, “But I see it as significant for me only in that this is who I am, how I was raised and it is the future of the Church in America.”
When asked what he remembers most from his ordination, Fr. Macario says, “I have to say what I remember most was what was different from diaconate ordination, which was the anointing with chrism.” This was the part of the ceremony his mother had wanted to see, a woman who took great pride in hard work and responsibility—values she instilled in her children—and the values of priestly service embodied in this sacramental sign. “Right after Archbishop Jerome anointed my hands,” Fr. Macario recounts, “he said, ‘We got you!’ That was very moving for me.”