Three newly ordained priests are ‘in your midst’ to serve

  • Written by Gabrielle Nolan
  • Published in Local
Deacons Louis Cunningham, Justin Ryan and Anh Tran sing the entrance hymn at their June 9 ordination Mass at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Photo: Stephen Brashear Deacons Louis Cunningham, Justin Ryan and Anh Tran sing the entrance hymn at their June 9 ordination Mass at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Photo: Stephen Brashear

SEATTLE – As sunlight poured through St. James Cathedral’s stained-glass windows June 9 — a miracle, some said, considering thunderstorms had been predicted — Anh Tran, Justin Ryan and Louis Cunningham became the newest priests of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

“Once again today, as a sign of his love, [God] consecrates priests to watch over and minister to us with his own very special love and grace,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in his ordination homily.

The three men were seated beneath the cathedral’s oculus skylight, “through which light streams into this building and illuminates the altar,” the archbishop noted. “The mosaic inscription that encircles the oculus has special significance for the three of you today, because it is taken from the Lord’s own words: ‘I am in your midst as one who serves.’”

“I hope that every time you enter the cathedral, you will look up to those words and be reminded of what it means to serve ‘in persona Christi,’” Archbishop Sartain said. “Do not preach to us what you think; preach the Gospel of Christ to us. … You will ensure that what you teach will be nourishment for the people of God.”

The archbishop thanked each man’s parents by name, praising them for the faith and example of love they provided their children. “You truly allowed God to work in your homes, and you were extraordinary instruments of God’s call,” he said.

Through their priestly ministry, Archbishop Sartain told the ordinands, “God will teach you who you are. You have much to learn about yourselves, just as I do.”

During the Rite of Ordination, the men promised to fulfill their duties as priests, united to Jesus. As Archbishop Sartain clasped his hands over theirs, each ordinand solemnly promised obedience to the archbishop and his successors.

Shortly afterward, the ordinands prostrated themselves before the altar — an act of humility and self-giving — while the congregation knelt and prayed a litany of saints. Then each took his turn kneeling before the archbishop to receive the laying on of hands.

As the choir sang “Come Holy Ghost,” the three new priests knelt while the archdiocese’s auxiliary bishops and priests laid hands on them, one by one. The priests gathered around the altar, creating a ring of prayer and protection around the newly ordained.

After the prayer of ordination, the new priests were vested with a stole and chasuble, assisted by priests important in their lives. Hugs and smiles abounded.

Then they knelt for the anointing of hands with chrism, the only holy oil that is given a fragrance, Archbishop Sartain noted in his homily.

“May the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s church,” he prayed.

During the “kiss of peace,” the new priests were greeted with hugs and congratulatory remarks from their brother priests. Then the newly ordained joined in consecrating the Eucharist for the first time, and distributed Communion to their family members and friends.

After returning to sit with their brother priests — and almost on cue — Fathers Cunningham, Ryan and Tran were bathed in sunlight streaming from the oculus.

Near the end of the three-hour Mass, Father Bryan Dolejsi, the archdiocese’s vocations director, announced the parish assignments for the new priests: Father Cunningham to St. Michael in Olympia, Father Ryan to St. Charles Borromeo in Tacoma and Father Tran to All Saints in Puyallup and St. Martin of Tours in Fife.

“Louis, Justin and Anh, it’s been a privilege to accompany you the last seven years,” Father Dolejsi said with a smile. “Welcome to the priesthood.”

Each of the new priests gave his first blessing to Archbishop Sartain, who knelt before the trio in front of the altar. Then, as they followed their brother priests in procession out of the cathedral, the congregation burst into congratulatory applause.