By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Steve and Beverly Miloscia know full well that they didn’t call four of their 12 children to a religious vocation. God did that.
But they certainly did the rest.
“We let our children discern God’s call,” Steve Miloscia said has he watched his son, Sam, be ordained May 16 to the transitional diaconate of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the last major step toward ordination next year to the priesthood.
Sam’s brother, Deacon David Miloscia, assisted at the ordination Mass at Christ the King Parish. Deacon David was ordained to the priesthood of the Archdiocese of St. Louis on May 23.
Another brother, Joseph, is in seminary formation for the St. Louis Archdiocese. A sister, Maria, will soon enter the novitiate of the Dominican Sisters in Nashville, Tenn.
“We just follow church teaching to be obedient, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest,” Steve Miloscia said.
That faithfulness, as well as the large number of Miloscia family members who came from St. Louis for Deacon Sam’s ordination, did not escape the notice of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, administrator of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, who has known the family since his own days as a priest and auxiliary bishop of St. Louis.
“Sam told me his earliest childhood memory was at age 4, kneeling next to his father at Mass,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“Sam’s father pointed to the consecrated host (and said), ‘Son, that’s Jesus. Jesus is making himself present to us. Never forget, that’s Jesus,’” Archbishop Naumann said.
“Wow! What a powerful teaching, Steve, you gave to Sam, who in a year, God willing, will be one of the human instruments Our Lord uses in making himself present to his people,” he said.
Archbishop Naumann said the ordination to the transitional diaconate marks the time when a future priest makes his vows of celibacy and obedience.
Archbishop Naumann recalled explaining celibacy to a young man, obviously not Catholic, following a workout at the Eighth Street YMCA in Kansas City, Kan.
“I tried to explain to him as much as you can in a YMCA locker room that the priest gives his whole life to Christ and the church,” he said.
“A married man has to make the needs of his marriage and family the highest priority. He has to put the good of his wife and children before his own desires,” the archbishop said.
“The priest is free to make himself available to serve wherever Christ and the church most need his energy,” Archbishop Naumann said. “The church becomes the priest’s family. He belongs to no particular family, but he becomes an important part of hundreds and hundreds of families.”
“Wow!” the young man said. “That’s awesome!”
“The commitment of celibacy is meant to be startling,” Archbishop Naumann said.
Looking directly at the Miloscia family to underscore his point, Archbishop Naumann said, “The church does not ask her priests to embrace the discipline of celibacy because she does not value the importance and beauty of Christian marriage and Christian family life. No, just the opposite.
“The church asks of those who will lead our communities of faith to give up the opportunity for what is, humanly speaking, most precious and most dear, precisely because it is most precious and most dear,” he said.
“Your embracing of celibacy both to proclaim the truth of Jesus as Lord and Savior and to serve his people with an undivided heart also boldly testifies that selfless, sacrificial love is the key to authentic and enduring happiness,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“Your gift of your life to Jesus and his church proclaims not only the truth of our eternal destiny but the path to happiness in this world,” he said.
It is also a “great act of faith” to promise obedience to “the next bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph and his successors,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“In doing this, you relinquish a great deal of your freedom,” he said.
“You do not just make an abstract promise to a remote God. You make a promise to a frail, weak human instrument of the church founded by Jesus,” the archbishop said.
“You commit yourself to serve in this local church wherever your bishop thinks your ministry is most needed,” he said.
“It will mean accepting assignments that are not of your own choosing. On the other hand, we bishops have a responsibility not to take advantage or misuse this gift of your obedience to the Lord’s church,” the archbishop said.
But obedience also offers “a special freedom, the freedom from not being able or responsible to chart your own destiny or engineer your own career as an ordained minister,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“In obedience and surrender to God’s will, you are an example to the whole church,” he said. “Often times, all of us find ourselves in circumstances not of our choosing. At these moments, we are called to trust if we are obedient to our Lord and Savior, he will bless and make fruitful our obedience.”
Archbishop Naumann reminded Sam Miloscia that ordained ministry, especially as a deacon, is a call to radical service.
“Seek to follow the Lord in the path of selfless love and he will give power to your preaching and make fruitful your sacramental ministry,” he said.
“The deacon, the priest and the bishop have the opportunity to unleash so much generosity in God’s people if we generously spend our lives not for our own comfort in this world, but for the good of our people no matter what sacrifice it requires from us,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“It is not possible to live this life of such pure and selfless love on our own or by the sheer force of our own will or discipline,” he said.
“To love as Jesus loved, we must surrender our lives to Jesus daily in our prayer, We must be able to say more and more with St. Paul: ‘It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me.’”