On May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, three men answered the call of the Lord by saying ‘yes’ to a new life as priests for the Archdiocese of Denver.
The men ordained to the priesthood were: Father Kevin Kasel, Father Anthony Phan and Father Patricio Chuquimarca. That each man represented a different nationality was a beautiful reflection of the universality of the Church. The Mass was presided by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who spoke at length about what their laying down of their lives as priests will entail as they serve the people of God.
“Today, my sons, you are giving your life as a priest for the Church. You are laying down your life as Christ has laid down his life in charity, the total gift of self. And we see that charity in Jesus Christ. We see that charity in the early Church, when St. Paul reminds those he is writing to, ‘let your love for one another be intense,'” Archbishop Aquila said. “Love covers a multitude of sins, and it is precisely in that virtue of charity that you will serve those you are called to serve, whether they be the homeless, whether they be the immigrant, whether it be those in prison or in hospitals. You are called to be of service to every person you encounter with the love of Jesus Christ, with the charity of Christ.”
The archbishop emphasized their need to constantly be steeped in the Word of God and to proclaim that Word boldly and faithfully.
“You are to have a deep love of sacred scripture, and most especially of the Gospels,” he urged. “You, my dearest sons, have already been called to preach the word of God. Not to beat people up with the Word of God, but rather to give them that word that will set them free, that word that will help them to encounter the mercy of Jesus Christ. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God. You are not called to preach your own opinion. You are not called to preach what you think might be right for today. As Saint Peter reminded them, we are to be those who proclaim the truth.
“Always be faithful to that proclamation of the word, to teaching the truth and to living the truth in your lives, no matter what the cost.”
One of the chief missions of the priest is to share the love of Christ with the people of God and help them to know that they are beloved sons and daughters of the Father. However, he also urged the new priests to remember that they, too, are loved infinitely by God.
“In making yourself a total self gift to Christ and the Church, you are to imitate Him as you teach, sanctify and oversee the church and those entrusted to your pastoral care,” the archbishop told the newly ordained men. “With teaching, never forget that you are to teach with charity, that you are to invite people to recognize that they do matter. Every human being matters in the eyes of God. You matter. It is God who has created you in His image and likeness. It is God who has chosen you to be His priests. It is God who has forgiven your sins, who has healed your wounds and brokenness because you matter in the eyes of God. It is He who makes you beloved sons of the Father and makes you today his priests.”
When Christ instituted the priesthood, he did so in the context of sacrificing his body and blood for the salvation of sins, and the primary role of the priest is the continual offering of this sacrifice in the Eucharist and the Mass. The archbishop implored the men reflect this self-gift of the Eucharist in their own priesthoods.
“In sanctifying the people, always remember that the church calls you to celebrate the Eucharist, each day. You sanctify the people by giving your lives as Christ gave his life in the Eucharist. Christ’s one sacrifice is made present, and as you proclaim the words, ‘This is my body given for you, This is my blood poured out for you,’ my sons, you say those words in Christ and acting in the person of Christ. But it is essential that those words, too, become your words.“
To conclude, Archbishop Aquila affirmed the new priests of his prayers for them.
“My sons, I pray for the three of you, that the Lord will continue to consecrate you and strengthen you in the truth, that you may be His light in the world, and that you will bring others to encounter him in his mercy and in his love.”