by Joe Bollig
TOPEKA — The ordination Mass on May 25 at St. Matthew Parish here was “standing room only” for a very good reason.
Actually, for four very good reasons: Four men were ordained to the priesthood.
The pews were packed with friends, family, religious, clerics and well-wishers who were there to celebrate the priestly ordinations of Father Lawrence Bowers, 37, Delia; Father Nathan Haverland, 29, Edwardsville; Father Daniel Schmitz, 28, Holton; and Father Quentin Schmitz, 33, Axtell.
The four men had been ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 19, 2012, at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.
The main celebrant, ordaining minister and homilist was Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. He was joined at the altar by Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher, Abbot James Albers, OSB, of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, and 65 priests. Msgr. Gary Applegate was master of ceremonies.
The last time four men were ordained at once was in 2011, but they were all members of the Apostles of the Interior Life, a religious order founded in Rome in 2007 by Father Salvatore Scorza, but whose priests will occasionally in the archdiocese. The last time four archdiocesan priests were ordained was in 2004, and before that it was in 2001.
Just the weekend before, four different men were ordained to the transitional diaconate at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, which puts them on track to be ordained to the priesthood in a year’s time.
The rite of ordination began after the Gospel reading with the election of the candidates, in which the four men were presented to Archbishop Naumann and the congregation gave its assent with the acclamation “Thanks be to God” and resounding applause.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann thanked each man’s parents — with special remembrance for Janice Rogers, the late mother of Father Haverland.
“We thank you for giving these men life through your love,” said the archbishop. “We thank you for all that you’ve done to shape and form them into the men they are today.”
The archbishop also expressed gratitude for those who helped the four men discern, study and grow in their vocation: members of religious orders, archdiocesan clergy, and seminary representatives.
Archbishop Naumann talked about the lives and vocational discernment of each man, noting the different paths they took to the one goal of the priesthood. Father Bowers worked in computer engineering, Father Haverland studied nuclear engineering, Father Daniel Schmitz worked in banking and real estate, and Father Quentin Schmitz worked in agriculture.
“Very different and unique paths, but God in his own way led each of you to this moment, to this altar at St. Matthew Church in Topeka,” he said.
“You come into this church already as ordained ministers — deacons of the church,” he continued. “But you will leave St. Matthew’s this morning changed in very significant ways. The same Spirit that Jesus breathed on the apostles in the passage we heard from the Gospel of John will be breathed on you through the instrument of his church.”
After the homily was the promise of the elect, for which the four men knelt before the archbishop and pledged obedience to him and his successors. Next, they lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of the Saints.
After this, each in turn knelt before Archbishop Naumann for ordination to the priesthood by the apostolic tradition of the laying on of hands.
After the prayer of ordination, each man was invested with stole and chasuble. Father Quentin Schmitz was vested by Father Mitchel Zimmerman, archdiocesan vocations director; Father Nathan Haverland was vested by his uncle, Father Jerry Rogers, from the Diocese of Crookston, Minn.; Father Daniel Schmitz was vested by Father Chris Rossman, pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Holton; and Father Larry Bowers was vested by Father Gale Hammerschmidt from the Diocese of Salina.
Finally, each man knelt before the archbishop to have his hands anointed with the oil of chrism. They were welcomed into the order of the presbyterate by archdiocesan and visiting priests, and then joined the archbishop and their brother priests at the altar to concelebrate the Mass for the first time.
Archbishop Naumann recognized and thanked seminary and religious order representatives: Msgr. Ed Griesedieck and Father James Swift, members of the faculty at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis; Msgr. Michael Glenn, rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver; and Father Chris Popravak, provincial of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of Mid-America.
The archbishop also thanked archdiocesan clergy who guided the four men in their entry into seminary, including Father Brian Schieber, vicar general and pastor of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish; Msgr. Michael Mullen, co-director of seminarians and pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan.; and Father Mitchel Zimmerman, the soon-to-be pastor of Christ the King Parish in Topeka.
Before the dismissal, Archbishop Naumann received the newly ordained priests’ first blessing, followed by Archbishop Emeritus Keleher and Abbot James.
Following the Mass there was a reception in the parish hall.