Nine new priests, 22 deacons ordained in Chicago Archdiocese

CHICAGO (CNS) — Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich ordained nine men to the priesthood at Holy Name Cathedral May 15, welcoming them to a presbyterate that both looks to them with hope and offers them support and encouragement as they begin their lives as priests.

“We want you to know that there is so much of our lives as priests that puts us face- to-face with the human condition of living with ambiguity, the contingent, conditional, provisional, uncertain, indefinite, tentative and the changeable of human life,” Cardinal Cupich told them in his homily.

“That has been especially so for us who have lived in this era of the Second Vatican Council and the enormous cultural shifts that have taken place over the last half-century,” he said.

“Yet, we have come to learn and trust more deeply that it is in the in-between of life, the unsettled and uncertain that Christ, through the Spirit we received at ordination, reveals himself as the one who remains with us, abides with us,” he said.

While they will not take up their parish assignments until July 1, the new priests celebrated their first Masses at parishes around the archdiocese May 15 and 16.

“There is the happy coincidence that your first Masses will occur on the great feast of ambiguity, the Ascension,” the cardinal told them. “Jesus is present but also absent, raised up at the right hand of the Father but also more immersed in our human condition than ever through the Holy Spirit.”

“Let this be a point of reference for your priesthood, that Christ from the beginning called you and Christians of all ages to live in the tension between heaven and earth,” he added.

While family and friends were present to support and encourage the ordinandi, their numbers were limited to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and those in attendance wore masks. Hand sanitizer was used frequently by the cardinal and the men being ordained and the cardinal anointed their hands with oil using individual cotton balls.

After Cardinal Cupich laid his hands on the heads of each of the nine men, more than 70 other priests did the same.

At the end of the Mass, the cardinal joked, “My hope is that this will be the last time, at least in my lifetime, that I have to ordain masked men.” He then invited the newly ordained priests to briefly remove their masks so that the entire congregation could see their smiles.

The new priests weren’t the only ones delighted. Several members of their families joined a few of the newly ordained in shedding tears of joy.

“There are no words,” said Beth Matijevich, mother of newly ordained Father Andrew Matijevich, wiping tears from her face. She and her husband, Mike, had just received a first blessing from their son, who started dreaming of becoming a priest in second grade. At 26, he is one of the youngest of the new priests.

“I had no doubt he would do it,” his mother said. “When he sets his mind to something, he accomplishes it.”

Sue Ryan, mother of newly ordained Father Robert Ryan, said her husband used to joke with her son about a vocation poster that hung in the back of their church in Antioch.

“He would say, ‘That’s for you, Rob,’ and we would laugh,” Sue said.

Father Ryan went to college in Michigan and moved to Texas to work, before coming back to Illinois and reconnecting to his faith.

“When he started discerning his vocation to the priesthood, I’ve never seen him so happy,” Sue told the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper. “I’m so glad we were here to see it.”

Her son found a copy of that old vocation poster and framed it and gave it to his parents.

Father Sebastian Zebrowski’s family could not travel from Poland to attend the ordination but watched the Mass on livestream. Before giving the final blessing, Cardinal Cupich invited him to address them from the podium in Polish.

Irma Salinas joined fellow parishioners of Good Shepherd Parish, where newly ordained Father Ritchie Ortiz-Juárez served before his ordination and received a blessing from him after Mass.

“He’s going to be a good priest,” she said. “He’s very human and he has a good heart.”

On May 8, 22 permanent and transitional Catholic deacons also were ordained at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has the largest Catholic permanent diaconate community in the world with 520 active deacons involved in 218 parishes and agencies. Since 1972, the archdiocese has ordained 1,427 men as permanent deacons.

Active, retired and inactive deacons total 720, while another 75 Chicago deacons serve in dioceses around the country — from Florida to California.- – –

Martin is a staff writer at the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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