By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Clearly it is the work of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Robert W. Finn said, that led the newest diocesan priest to the moment of his ordination Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“Your journey has already taken you along wonderful paths not those that most candidates for priesthood experience,” Bishop Finn told James Carlyle moments before his ordination.
“This experience is a good foundation laid by God’s providence. And there are blessed paths yet to unfold,” he said.
“It is right and just that you are here,” the bishop said. “I wish you welcome and peace.”
Father Carlyle is the second priest of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese to be ordained under the special pastoral provision set by Pope St. John Paul II to ordain former Episcopal clergymen for the Roman Catholic priesthood.
He joins in the diocesan presbyterate Father Ernie Davis, who was ordained for the diocese by Bishop Raymond Boland in 2002 under the same provision and now serves in hospital chaplaincy after serving as administrator of St. James and St. Therese Little Flower parish in Kansas City.
Father Carlyle’s wife, Elizabeth, was in the front pew where, immediately after Father Carlyle blessed Bishop Finn, she was the first lay person to receive the blessing from the newly ordained priest.
Also at Father Carlyle’s side were his son Austin, his daughter Maggy, and the Rev. Mark A. McGuire of the Episcopal tradition, a longtime friend.
“James served as an Episcopal priest in parish ministry in various places including Lee’s Summit,” Bishop Finn told the congregation in his homily.
“He and Elizabeth converted to Catholicism a number of years ago,” he said. “James comes to us today, on this Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, to be consecrated in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, to offer the sacrifice of salvation, and to announce by his words and his life that the Kingdom of God is among us.”
Bishop Finn offered his gratitude to both Father Davis and Father Gregory Lockwood for sponsoring and mentoring Father Carlyle in the Pastoral Provision process.
He noted that Father Carlyle will have special gifts for the fraternity of priests into which he was ordained.
“We are thankful for the experience of faith and ministry in the Episcopal tradition in which James was first formed,” Bishop Finn said.
“I know our priests welcome him as a new brother and will also draw from him a fresh zeal and enthusiasm for their priestly work. May our Lord reward you all for your gracious assistance and support for James,” the bishop said.
Bishop Finn noted that Father Carlyle already has “a deep love for the Holy Eucharist.”
“The privilege we have of offering Holy Mass is one of the most important reasons Jesus Christ established his priesthood of the New Covenant,” he said.
“The Eucharist renews the Lord’s sacrifice and applies its fruits for the sake of the whole people of God, living and dead,” Bishop Finn said.
“The Eucharist is necessary for the life of the world, and Jesus entrusted it uniquely to us as priests,” he said. “Offer the Mass daily with great love. It is not only the source and summit of the whole Christian life, it is the source of the priest’s pastoral love, and the sacrament that represents the fullness of initiation in the life of the church.”
Bishop Finn urged the new priest to defend the dignity and promote the respect for “all human life from its inception until natural death.”
“Support with particular zeal those who have no voice of their own — the unborn, those with special needs, the aged and the dying,” he said.
“Defend the integrity of marriage and the family which, as the church teaches, are at the core of our society,” 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,” Bishop Finn said. “I charge you to love God’s people and take care of them as your own.”
Bishop Finn also urged Father Carlyle to bring the sacraments to a people hungry for them.
“In the person of Christ, the head of the church, you will forgive sins and foster reconciliation within the people of God,” he said, noting that St. Luke was a physician and healer.
“As a priest confessor, you must reveal Jesus Christ as the Divine Physician who heals our souls and revitalizes within us the life of grace,” Bishop Finn said. “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.”
Father Carlyle, upon his ordination last May as a transitional deacon, has been serving as administrator of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Independence, and will continue that service as a priest, Bishop Finn said.
“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.