by Joe Bollig
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas started the “Year of the Priest” early May 23 with the ordination of three men to the priesthood at Holy Trinity Parish here.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann ordained Deacons Matthew Schiffelbein, Andrew Max Strobl, and Patrick T. Sullivan to the priesthood for the archdiocese through the ancient and apostolic tradition of the laying on of hands.
In his homily, the archbishop noted that the three were being ordained at the close of the Year of Paul and the eve of the Year of the Priest, which is the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars.
“One good, zealous and holy priest can make such an enormous different in the life of the church, and the life of the archdiocese, and the life of our parish communities,” said Archbishop Naumann. “A priest who is first and foremost a man of prayer, and therefore close to Jesus Christ, who will be able to bring Jesus to the people he serves, and bring his people to Jesus.”
“One good, holy priest can ignite the fire of faith in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people,” the archbishop continued. “And if a bishop is able to wisely call and ordain such men to the priesthood, the life of the church will be positively affected for decades within the diocese.”
The three priests, each alumni of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, were ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 31, 2008, at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.
Father Schiffelbein, 29, is a native of Topeka. His parents are Stephen and Teresa Schiffelbein. Father Strobl, 27, is a native of Kansas City, Mo. His parents are Joseph and Phyllis Strobl. Father Sullivan, 39, is also a native of Kansas City, Mo. His parents are William and Rosemarie Sullivan.
The three men were being called into a spiritually intense new life and lifestyle, said the archbishop. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI, who described the life of the priest in terms of the Good Shepherd who gives his life to those entrusted in his care, knows his people and lets them know him, and fosters unity within his flock.
“The only legitimate ascent toward the shepherd’s ministry is the cross,” said the archbishop. “It is the true way to rise, the true door [to the sheepfold], not the desire to become someone for one’s self, but rather to exist for others, for Christ.”
The archbishop thanked the parents and families of the new priests for fostering the faith and vocations of their sons. He thanked Father Mitchel Zimmerman, the archdiocesan vocations director; Father Brian Schieber and Msgr. Michael Mullen, archdiocesan directors of seminarians; and all those who inspired and encouraged the three men to pursue a vocation to the priesthood.
Archbishop Naumann was the ordaining bishop and principal celebrant. Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher and approximately 50 priests concelebrated. Also present were Father Albert Brueken, representing Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo.; and Father Jake Beltran, representing the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill.
Father Schiffelbein was vested by Father William Bruning and Father John Murphy, SJ; Father Andrew Strobl was vested by Father Donald Cullen and Father Jerry Volz; Father Sullivan was vested by Father Douglas Langer and Father Albert Brueken, OSB.
Each of the three newly ordained priests received their first assignments as parochial vicars (associate pastors): Father Schiffelbein will go to Ascension Parish in Overland Park; Father Strobl will go to Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe; and Father Sullivan will go to Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa.