By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Snow, sleet and falling temperatures couldn’t keep a smile from Deacon Olvin Giron’s heart as Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. ordained him a priest for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 17. With his mother, Maria Zoila Mejia, brothers Ivan Giron Mejia and Jelsin Giron Mejia, and his host family Antonio, Elvira, Yadira and Axel Gallegos, in attendance, his 13-year journey to the priesthood concluded in joy for the young man.
It was a journey that began in his homeland of Honduras, continued through Guatemala and then to the U.S. and two years at Conception Seminary College for English lessons as well as continued formation. His last two years of formation were spent at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.
The Gallegos family are members of Holy Cross Parish, which sponsored the seminarian. Holy Cross Hispanic Music Ministry provided the choir, directed by Oscar Giovanni Cubas. Hymns were sung in both English and Spanish.
In his homily, Bishop Johnston reminded the congregation of family, friends, priests and seminarians that the moment of ordination “is a moment when we can all thank God for giving us another ‘laborer for His harvest.’ The priesthood only exists because of Jesus, who is our high priest. Priests exist so that Jesus can extend his presence and priestly work into the world to save the world.
“All members of the Church,” he continued, “through baptism, share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, but … Jesus chooses some to share in his ministerial priesthood to assist the bishop in his role of fulfilling the ministry of the apostles to teach, to shepherd and to sanctify by celebrating the sacraments. The work of all priests is the work of Jesus: ‘to seek out and save the lost.’”
He explained that the readings for that day aid in the appreciation of the mystery of the priesthood.
“Priests are chosen not only to lead an organization; they are anointed. They have the anointing, and the Spirit of the Lord is with them. Priests should want to be holier each day, because they want to be more faithful to the anointing that they have received. Through the laying on of hands and prayer, bishops effect this anointing on priests. This anointing is a priest’s joy and strength.
“ … in the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah speaks about the anointing of the Spirit and what it brings about. If the anointing of the Lord is upon a man, he becomes empowered to bring the liberation of Jesus into the lives of people. He brings good news of salvation; he becomes a messenger of mercy; he releases prisoners by forgiving sins; he makes the sacrifice of Christ present through his words and actions in the Mass; he comforts those who mourn. A fancy way of saying this is … he ‘acts in the person of Christ.’ The priest is given the awesome opportunity to make Christ present through his ministry, flesh and blood, earthen vessel that he is.”
He said, “Every priest must in utter humility make the words of John the Baptist his own in absolute honesty: ‘He (Jesus) must increase, while I must decrease.’
In his letter to Timothy … St. Paul advises Timothy, a priest, Bishop Johnston continued, “but his advice is to all priests: to set an example by practicing what you preach; to give a good example. Why? St. Paul answers, ‘for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.’
“Following Jesus always means losing something else. Like St. Peter and the other apostles, it involves a ‘dropping the nets’ moment to be led to something else that Jesus wants for us.”
Addressing the candidate, Olvin, the bishop said, “The challenge is to always be available as a grain of wheat—to be available to the Lord. This requires a certain freedom and a generous, faith-filled heart; again, ‘He must increase, while I must decrease.’ To do that we must keep faith. Fidelity means persevering on the path of holiness. From time to time, I will be the one as your bishop to call forth that fidelity, when I ask you to do something … you might not want to do; to go to a new parish, a new part of the diocese that is unknown to you; to serve in a way that you are afraid of; to be a missionary. To be a grain of wheat.
“To be faithful, Olvin, is only possible with prayer. Without prayer, you forget what the Lord has done for you, you forget who you are, you lose sight of Jesus. Without prayer, we all become just a worker in the Church. We lose our joy. We forget the excitement we felt when we realized we were called by Jesus to drop our nets and follow him into the unknown, into ‘the deep’ water. Without prayer, priesthood becomes just a job.
“Priesthood is an extension of Jesus in the world, and it is brought about through this holy anointing. Olvin, may God give you the grace to choose every day of your priestly life to be a grain of wheat; to allow Jesus to increase in your life and ministry, so that much fruit will be produced for the Kingdom of God.”
The newly ordained priest was vested by his close friend, Father Andres Moreno, parochial vicar of Our Lady of the Presentation Parish in Lee’s Summit. After the ordination rite concluded, Father Giron concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Johnston and the other priests.
A reception at the Catholic Center honored Father Giron, his family and his host family. After a short vacation in Honduras, Father Giron will begin as Parochial Vicar at St. Therese Parish, Parkville, effective Jan. 24.