New priests urged to ‘have the heart of Christ’

Nilton and Geovania de Araujo Castro traveled more than 5,000 miles from Brazil to witness the ordination of their son, Warli, into the priesthood on May 17, in downtown Denver.

Joan Martin only had to drive about 40 milesfrom her Longmont home to attend the ordination Mass for her son, Jason Wunsch, but she shared the same emotions as the Castro couple.

“I am excited, blessed, filled with gratitude,” Martin said.

An emotional, tearful Geovania spoke in Portuguese of the grace of God in their lives. Her husband added, “It is a blessing from the Lord.”

Family and friends packed the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception as four seminarians who served as deacons for the last year were ordained by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila. Castro and Wunsch entered the priesthood with Joseph Doman and Nathan A. Goebel.

All four new priests begin work at their archdiocesan parishes as parochial vicars on June 18 for three-year assignments.

The uplifting 90-minute Mass blended English with Portuguese, organ and trumpet music from the Cathedral Basilica’s choir led by Mark Lawlor and organist Kathleen MacLean, and guitar and drum music from Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary choir.

Archbishop Aquila delivered an impassioned homily for the new priests reminding them that in serving the Church they must remain loyal, humble and forgiving.

“There is nothing worse than a cantankerous, angry priest,” Archbishop Aquila said. “He does not know Jesus and the love that Jesus alone can give.”

The archbishop urged the new priests to pray to the Holy Spirit while celebrating the sacraments.

“To have the heart of Christ is my deepest prayer for you who are ordained today,” Archbishop Aquila said.

Father Doman’s parents, John and Michele, traveled from Pennsylvania. The ninth of 10 children his guests took up five pews, instead of the normally reserved three pews, to accommodate the visitors including many of his 39 nieces and nephews.

“This is quite humbling,” said his father, John. “Don’t tell our other kids, but I think God took the best one.”

Father Doman, 29, has been assigned to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn. St. Anthony of Padua in Denver will be the new parish for Father Castro, 33.

St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Littleton will be home for Father Goebel, 31, who grew up in Illinois. His family members, Mike and Ashley Goebel, presented the gifts at the Mass along with the parents of the other new priests.

Father Wunsch, 36, was raised in the Methodist Church and became a Catholic at age 20 after his identical twin brother, Mark, became the first convert in the family. His mother also converted and is active at St. John the Baptist Church in Longmont. He has been assigned at St. Michael the Archangel in Craig and the parishes of St. Ignatius of Antioch in Rangely and Holy Family in Meeker under the guidance of the pastor, Father Geronimo Gonzalez.

“I think he will fit right in with us,” Father Gonzalez said. “I look forward to our work together for the good of the people of Craig, Meeker, and Rangely and the spread of the Gospel in our little corner of the state.”

ORDINATION RITES

The four deacons who were ordained as priests went through several ordination rites administered by Archbishop Samuel Aquila.

Election of Candidates for the Priesthood

The archbishop called each priestly candidate by name and they responded: “Present” before stepping forward. He asked the candidates if they had received proper training and were ready for ordination. Msgr. Bernie Schmitz, vicar for clergy, endorsed the candidates.
“Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the order of the priesthood,” Archbishop Aquila said. The congregation responded, “Thanks be to God,” and welcomed the men with hardy applause.

Promises of the Elect

The archbishop took each candidate’s hand individually and asked each man if he is willing to serve the Church as a faithful priest. The candidates promised respect to the archbishop and his successors. The men lay prone on the altar during the Litany of Supplication.

Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination

They individually approached the archbishop who laid his hands upon each candidate in silent prayer. Other priests joined the archbishop in laying hands on the elect to symbolize the unity of the priests with the archbishop.

Investiture with Stole and Chasuble; Anointing of Hands; Handing Over of the Bread and Wine and Kiss of Peace

The newly ordained priests were vested with a stole and chasuble, and then their hands were anointed by the archbishop before they were presented with a holy chalice and paten used for the Eucharist. The archbishop and the priests together welcomed the newly ordained with the kiss of peace.

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”