by Joe Bollig
OLATHE, Kan. — The ordination of three men on the anniversary of his own priestly ordination was more than a gift, said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
It was the crowning event of an eventful month.
“One thing for sure that I never envisioned 39 years ago was that, through God’s providence and sense of humor, I would someday be administering the sacrament of holy orders to others,” said Archbishop Naumann in his homily.
“During this month of May,” he continued, “I’ve had the special privilege to be the principal consecrator of the new bishop of Wichita, Bishop Carl Kemme, last week to ordain five transitional deacons for the archdiocese, and now, today, to ordain three priests.
“For a bishop, this is sort of a triple crown.”
Archbishop Naumann completed his “triple crown” on May 25 at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe when he ordained Father Anthony Joseph Saiki, 26, from DeSoto; Father Adam Christopher Wilczak, 30, from Topeka; and Father Jaime Ryan Zarse, 27, from Overland Park.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann told the three newly ordained priests that not only did the sacrament of holy orders make an indelible mark on their souls, but it made them “marked men” in another sense.
“Last week at the ordination of our new deacons, I cautioned them that in making promises to serve the church as an ordained minister, they were making themselves a target for evil,” said Archbishop Naumann.
“And I said,” the archbishop continued, “that ‘while the church rejoices at the faith and love that are the foundations of the promises you are about to make, hell and its residents are agitated, provoked and upset.
Your ordination today places a huge target on your back. You’re on the devil’s hit list. His strategy since the very beginning has been to strike the shepherds and the sheep will scatter.’”
It takes courage to place oneself, as a priest, on the front lines in the battle of good and evil for human souls, he said.
He also told them about a letter he received from a woman who attended the chrism Mass for the first time this year. She noted that, among the many priests renewing their vows, were several priests who were part of the most important events that took place in the life of her family.
As priests, he said, the most important gift they can give the people they serve is their own committed love of Jesus, which will overflow from them into the lives of the people they serve.
“Let the love of Jesus inform, inspire and radiate through everything you do. And some 40 years from now, some person will write to one of my successors expressing what a difference Father Anthony Saiki, Father Adam Wilczak and Father Jaime Zarse has made in their life and the lives of their family,” said Archbishop Naumann.
The archbishop thanked the priests and deacons who were present to offer their support to the newly ordained.
He also thanked the families and parents of the newly ordained priests — John and Virginia Saiki, Ronald and Debbie Wilczak, and Robert and Alicia Zarse.
“We see today the fruit of your own faithful living of your vocation of Christian marriage and Christian parenthood,” said Archbishop Naumann. “So we thank you and pray that the Lord continue to bless you in every way.”
The archbishop also expressed thanks and gratitude to those who helped the three men discern, study and grow in their vocations.
Among those the archbishop recognized were: Father James Presta, vice rector, and Denis R. McNamara, a professor, of Mundelien Seminary in Chicago; Father Dennis Doyle, assistant director for spiritual formation at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis; Msgr. Michael Mullen and Father Mitchel Zimmerman, archdiocesan codirectors of seminarians; and Father Scott Wallisch, archdiocesan vocations director.
Archbishop Naumann, the ordaining minister and homilist, was joined at the altar by Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher and Abbot James Albers, OSB, of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison. Deacons Daniel Stover and Gerard Alba assisted at the altar.
Some 60 priests, 13 deacons and 21 archdiocesan seminarians were also present as Father Jerry Volz vested Deacon Wilczak, Fathers John Torres and Dennis Doyle vested Deacon Saiki, and Fathers Frank Burger and Andrew Strobl vested Deacon Zarse before the ordinations.
The three men had been ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 18, 2013, at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.