Archdiocese celebrates fourth priestly ordination this year
by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s nice to know that someone has your back, especially during the really important moments of your life.
When Father Gerard Alba was presented to Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann for ordination to the priesthood on Nov. 15 at St. Peter’s Cathedral, a lot of people had his back.
Not only were the first seven pews filled with his relatives, there wasn’t an empty seat in the cathedral. A good number of people even stood at the back.
After the archbishop accepted him, it was the people’s turn to give their assent — which they did with thunderous applause.
“I’ll take that as approval for the candidate,” Archbishop Naumann said.
Father Alba, 33, a native of the Republic of the Philippines but raised in the United States, was the fourth man to be ordained to the priesthood for the archdiocese this year. His is the first priestly vocation from the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park. Father Alba was ordained a deacon on May 17, 2013, at Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood.
Archbishop Naumann was the ordaining minister, main celebrant and homilist.
Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher and some 50 priests concelebrated. Several deacons and seminarians were also present.
During the ordination rite, Father Alba promised his obedience to Archbishop Naumann and his successors, had his hands anointed with sacred chrism, and was ordained by Archbishop Naumann through the ancient rite of the laying on of hands.
Each of the priests present also laid his hands on Father Alba’s head, and later embraced him as he was welcomed into the order of the presbyterate.
Msgr. Vince Krische, the retired former chaplain/director of the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, vested Father Alba.
Father Alba’s parents, Gerry and Grace Alba, brought forward his chalice and paten and were also the first to receive Communion from the newly ordained priest.
Master of ceremonies was Msgr. Gary Applegate, assisted by Father Bruce Ansems and Father John Riley.
A 12-member honor guard was provided by the Lt. William T. Fitzsimons and St. Philippine Duchesne fourth- degree assemblies of the Knights of Columbus.
“It is a special joy to be able to celebrate this season of thanksgiving in our country, [and] a great gift for our church — a new priest,” said Archbishop Naumann in his homily. “We do this in the context when the church is focused in a very particular way on the family, and the importance of the family, and the importance and beauty of Christian marriage.”
Archbishop Naumann expressed his gratitude to the ordinand’s parents.
“This vocation of Gerard’s springs out of the beauty and goodness of the family to which you have given life, and how the faith has been so important in your own family life,” said the archbishop. “Because of that, you’ve planted the seed of faith deeply in Gerard’s heart.”
“So we thank you for the beauty of your married love and for the gift that your family is to the church,” he continued. “It is normally the course that vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life spring out of these families of faith.”
The archbishop noted that one of Father Alba’s gifts was an artist’s eye. In fact, the ordination program booklet featured a piece of the ordinand’s original art: a sketch of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.
“I know this image of the crown of thorns has a special meaning in your own vocational discernment, but it is also a beautiful symbol of what Jesus was willing to endure so that he might rule our hearts,” the archbishop told Deacon Alba, “not by the force of authority and power, but by the force of mercy and love. And by entering into our human condition, he entered into our suffering.”
This, he said, is a poignant example of what the role of a priest must be — to fully share in the life of his parishioners by sharing in the struggles and pain of their lives, and to share the Gospel.
Archbishop Naumann also thanked those who played major roles in fostering Father Alba’s priestly vocation, including Father Ronald Hicks, dean of priestly formation at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary near Chicago; Msgr. Thomas Tank, pastor of Ascension Parish in Overland Park and Father Gerard’s former pastor; and past and current vocation and seminarian directors Father Brian Schieber, Msgr. Michael Mullen, Father Mitchel Zimmerman, and Father Scott Wallisch.
Archbishop Naumann also noted the important roles in fostering Father Alba’s vocation played by the St. Lawrence Center, the Apostles of the Interior Life, Benedictine College in Atchison and Mundelein Seminary.
Before the dismissal, Archbishops Naumann and Keleher received the first blessings from Father Alba, followed by his parents.
A reception was held in the parish center following the ordination Mass.
Father Alba’s first assignment is as parochial vicar at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, where he has served as deacon.