Deacon Jonathon Davis raised to the Order of the Priesthood

Father Joseph Cisetti, pastor of St. Therese Parish in Parkville, Father Davis’ home parish, helps the newly ordained priest vest in stole and chasuble, following the ancient ritual of priestly ordination May 27. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was filled with music, priests, religious sisters and many lay people from near and far; all come to witness Deacon Jonathon Davis’ ordination to the priesthood. Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. described the crowd as “a beautiful representation of the local Church, indeed, the Universal Church.”

Deacon Davis, clad in a white lace trimmed alb and the stole, worn across his left shoulder, sat quietly in his chair in the sanctuary during the readings; eyes closed much of the time, his expression hopeful, nervous, excited and joyful all at the same time.

In his homily, the bishop first thanked Deacon Davis’ parents, John and Brenda, for the gift of faith they had handed on to their son, with their love and support, and smiles. He thanked the rector of Holy Apostles Seminary, Father Douglas Mosey and Father Greg Lewis for their gift of priestly formation and for traveling from Connecticut to be present for Deacon Davis, adding that he had heard a rumor that Father Mosey “might not recommend Jonathon for the Holy Orders. Then I learned that it was not because he was unfit. It was because they didn’t want him to leave.”

The first reading (Acts 10:37-43) tells of St. Peter “bearing public witness to Jesus Christ with confident boldness and joy … the person of Jesus Christ, his Galilean ministry, his crucifixion and death, his resurrection, his (Peter’s) own witness to these things, his assurance that he will come again in judgement and glory, and the invitation to accept salvation and the forgiveness of sins in his name. This Easter day, near the feast of the Ascension, and the ordination of a priest of the new covenant — both are reasons to celebrate with great joy. . . He truly abides with us, as he promised, and is made present to us through the ministry of the priest and, in a special way, in the Holy Eucharist.”

With the imposition of his hands on Jonathon Davis’ head, the bishop ordains him priest. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

Bishop Johnston referred to a common phrase, bread and butter. “Bread and butter describes the essential things that sustain a person, the foundation that he builds upon for his work, his livelihood and his life.” A major league pitcher, for example, will use his go-to pitch, his best pitch, when he needs a strike. That would be his bread and butter pitch.

The bishop suggested that the reading from St. Peter was his “bread and butter homily … He was preaching the bread and butter of the Gospel, the person of Jesus Christ. In some form or fashion every homily a priest preaches, every part of his ministry should be about … Jesus Christ, his death, his resurrection and his victory — in this time of salvation that we are in, we are privileged to announce to the world that is longing to hear this good news. Think about it … that’s every priest’s bread and butter homily. That’s what it’s all about.

“The Holy Spirit … and the mandate from the bishop commissions every priest to carry on what St. Peter did on this occasion and do it with the same joyful confidence.”

St. Paul, “that other pillar of the early Church, said the same thing in a different way when he said, ‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.’”

Bishop Johnston continued, “We preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and then we get to participate in an amazing way in making him visibly present through the sacraments, especially the sacrifice of the new covenant, the Holy Eucharist. All this is made more authentic if we witness to it, through our lives, which are called to reflect the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus speaks directly to this in the Gospel today. He commands us to, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. To lay down one’s life in all sorts of circumstances — for one’s parishioners, for one’s brother priests, for the poor, the immigrant, the refugee, the sick, the suffering, the dying — all sorts of circumstances present themselves in the life of a priest. To do what Jesus tells us to do here, to love one another, to lay down our lives for each other, this is especially true for the priest. This is the fruit that remains … in fact It is the only thing every last one of us will take into eternity when we die, the fruit of love.” He then spoke directly to Deacon Davis. “This is the fruit of the spirit, the fruit of the priesthood, that you will be sent to cultivate for the remainder of your life, Jonathon, in the souls that you care for and in your own soul. From this point on, you are not your own.

“A few years ago at a Chrism Mass, Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily, the priesthood is a transfer of ownership, of being taken out of the world and given to God. The Sacrament of ordination expresses this very point. Through the sacrament, the priest is totally inserted into Christ, so that by starting out young, and acting in his time, he may carry on the communion with him in service to Jesus, the One Shepherd … who wants to be our shepherd. … Our joy, our freedom and our confidence come from knowing we are gifts. We must constantly remember daily this by prayer, and at times by a deliberate act of giving ourselves more completely to him each day of our lives as priests so that he can use us in his work, the work of salvation.” The sacramental ritual of Holy Orders proceeded, with Deacon Davis prostrating himself on the floor before the altar as the choir sang the Litany of the Saints. He then approached the bishop, and knelt before him as Bishop Johnston placed his hands on the deacon’s head, ordaining him priest as the Apostles did 2,000 years ago.

Father Joseph Cisetti, pastor of St. Therese Parish in Parkville, Father Davis’s home parish, helped the newly ordained priest vest in the stole, worn around the neck, and the chasuble. The new priest then returned to the bishop, who anointed his hands with the Oil of Chrism. Following the Handing Over of the Bread and Wine, Father Davis stood at the front of the sanctuary to receive the fraternal kiss of peace from his brother priests and ordained deacons.

Father Davis shares a hug with his parents after giving them his first apostolic blessing. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

He then sat in his chair as the altar was dressed for the Eucharistic celebration by recently ordained Deacons Timothy Leete and William Fox. While this was done, the choir sang the first public performance of “Salvation Foretold,” a music composition by Jonathon Davis composed in the Fall of 2011 as a requirement for his music degree at UMKC.

When his brother priests came to the altar to share in the liturgy, Father Davis joined them. He stood next to Bishop Johnston, distributing Holy Communion, first to his parents, then to family and friends.

A reception at the Catholic Center honored Father Davis, but not before the new priest gave his first apostolic blessing to his parents, followed by a Mom, Dad and son hug, then blessing a long line of friends, family, well-wishers, priests and religious.

Father Davis had said just two weeks earlier after the ordination of Deacons Leete and Fox that he was excited and a little scared, but with the help of God and the love of his family and friends, he’d make it.

The expression on his face as he blessed his parents, then those waiting in line, showed his happiness and gratitude.

Father Davis will be serving as Parochial Vicar at Holy Cross and Our Lady of Peace parishes, effective Aug. 14. In the meantime, he will be taking part in a Spanish Language Immersion program in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

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Sunday
November 19, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph