By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Two loud and long ovations rang through a packed Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception May 23.
The first ovation was for the seven men about to be ordained priests of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as they were formally accepted.
They are (now-Fathers) Bryan Amthor, Joshua Barlett, Ryan Koster, Gabriel Lickteig, Jorge Andres Moreno, Luis Felipe Suarez and Curt Vogel.
The second ovation happened spontaneously after Cathedral rector Father Joseph Powers said this from the ambo after Holy Communion:
“Today is truly a great and glorious day. Bishop (Robert W.) Finn, I thank you for your presence. I know it meant a great deal to these seven young men today. Thank you, and may God bless you always.”
Bishop Finn, who resigned as bishop a month earlier, administered the sacrament to the seven young men whom he helped nurture to the priesthood.
And after his ovation, he quickly put the focus back on them, especially thanking their parents and other family members, as well as legions of friends who filled the Cathedral to capacity from the St. Pius X Chapel all the way to the back rows of the choir loft.
It was, after all, their day and a day to celebrate God’s call to the seven as his newest priests, Bishop Finn had told the congregation earlier in his homily.
“It is about Jesus Christ, Jesus the high priest,” Bishop Finn said.
“It is about the mystery of the church, the people of God, not perfect but beautiful; beautiful because we are loved and redeemed by God,” he said.
“This is a holy and sacred ministry for which our sons and brothers are about to be consecrated,” the bishop said.
“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,” he said.
And the church was filled with special guests.
Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisc., attended as a guest of the Koster family. Mayor Guillermo Quintana came from Felipe Suarez’s home town of Cucunuba, Colombia, as did his father, mother and two brothers.
Also coming from Colombia were the parents of Jorge Moreno, as well as relatives of Curt Vogel from his mother’s side of the family.
Bishop Finn greeted them in Spanish: “These sons of yours have wonderful missionary hearts. We thank you for sharing him with the diocese.”
Bishop Finn told the young men that their priestly careers may not always be easy and “may cause you hardship.”
“But your mandate is clear,” he said quoting Jeremiah: “To whomever I send you, you shall go . . . Have no fear . . . because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
Bishop Finn reminded the congregation of the Letter of St. Peter, the day’s second reading, in which the apostle tells the priests to “Tend the flock of God.”
“You and I must lay down our lives for the sheep, and never shrink from fulfilling the privileged work God entrusts to us,” Bishop Finn said.
“You will be loved as priests, but remember that even when the happy feelings die away, your work is nothing less than the salvation of souls,” he said.
“The true measure of your success is not the maintenance of a superficial peace, but rather how faithfully you have walked ‘the narrow path’ and guided the flock within the church to Christ,” Bishop Finn said.
“One of your most privileged priestly duties is as minister of the Sacrament of Penance,” he said.
“In Confession, you will forgive sins and foster reconciliation with the people of God. 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.”
Bishop Finn told the young men to embrace the grace of priestly celibacy “by which you are free to give yourself completely to the church with an undivided heart.”
“In this way, it will be clear 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 that is pure and holy.”
Bishop Finn told the young men to stay “close to Mary.”
“She is the mother of all priests,” he said.
“We implore her today as spouse of the Holy Spirit to intercede for us and beg for those gifts which will help us more perfectly imitate Jesus Christ,” Bishop Finn said.
“When your pastoral duties weigh upon you, ask St. Joseph, guardian of the Redeemer, patron of the universal church and a diocesan patron, to help you carry the load without becoming discouraged,” he said.