Local Religious life

Aaron Waldeck ordained as the archdiocese’s newest priest

Deacon Aaron Waldeck stands before the congregation as they affirm his election to the priesthood with applause. PHOTO BY MARY KATE KRAUSE

by Marc and Julie Anderson

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — According to his family, Aaron Waldeck was “quite young” and “a bit taller than a coffee table” the first time he played Mass as a little boy.

“He covered the table, brought in dishes, candles and the family Bible, and we played ‘church,’” said his mother, Carolyn.

“He was always the priest. (He would be upset when I would not allow the candles to be lit!). In hindsight, that was a sign,” she added.

On May 26, Aaron Waldeck celebrated Mass for the first time as Father Waldeck at his home parish of Sacred Heart in Shawnee, just one day after Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann ordained him to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.

Father Aaron Waldeck kneels before Archbishop Naumann as priests of the archdiocese raise their hands in blessing and the archbishop prays the Prayer of Consecration. PHOTO BY MARY KATE KRAUSE

That moment was just one of several moments spread out across the ordination weekend that members of the Waldeck family said they were looking forward to, especially because Aaron’s “faith and dedication to the priesthood will make him a father and confessor able to hear the people and make certain they live the Gospel.”

“We look forward to the end of one journey and the beginning of another,” said Carolyn.

“We want to absorb the entirety of the experience and watch him move forward in his life as he touches the lives of others,” she continued. “If we had to pick one moment, it will be watching him complete his first consecration of bread and wine into the Eucharist.”

Deacon Aaron Waldeck lies prostrate before the altar while his parents, Tobi and Carolyn, look on. PHOTO BY MARY KATE KRAUSE

In his homily, and as he has on several occasions, the archbishop said one of the greatest joys and responsibilities as a bishop is ordaining new priests. In fact, in the week leading up to the ordination, the archbishop said as he visited the barbershop, a convenience store and other places around town, he was asked if he had any major plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“I was able to reply, ‘As a matter of fact, I will ordain a man to the priesthood on Saturday,’” the archbishop said, adding that at first people were silent, as no doubt they expected him to mention barbecue, the lake or a Royals game.

“Once they had a chance to absorb what I had said,” he continued, “they smiled and said, ‘Wow!’”

Father Aaron Waldeck pledges his obedience to the archbishop and his successors as a priest who will be under the care, guidance and direction of the archdiocesan bishop. PHOTO BY MARY KATE KRAUSE

Sometimes, the archbishop said, people ask him for his favorite part of being an archbishop. His response, he said, is always the same.

“My consistent response is ordaining priests. Why? Because one zealous, dedicated priest will touch thousands of lives by inspiring people through preaching of the Gospel, administering God’s mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation, encouraging God’s people with the Eucharist, the bread of life, bringing comfort and healing to the sick, consoling families who experience the death of a loved one with the truth of the Resurrection, preparing couples for marriage, witnessing their vows — and the list could go on.”

The archbishop added that a bishop cannot simply ordain men to the priesthood without proper discernment and without ensuring the proper formation of the man to be ordained.

“[The bishop] must accompany them during a long period of discernment as they seek to discover God’s will,” he said. “It is also my responsibility to also discern the candidate for priesthood will be a good shepherd as well as a loving and spiritual father to the people of God.”

Father Aaron Waldeck concelebrates Mass with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and his brother priests. PHOTO BY MARY KATE KRAUSE

The archbishop went on to address the ordinand directly later on in his homily.

“Aaron, you will have to become used to people calling you ‘Father.’ People who are much your senior will now address you as ‘Father.’ To the newly ordained, this is always a bit unnerving. It does not seem right. It takes some getting used to,” the archbishop said.

“I encourage you, however, not to dissuade people from calling you ‘Father’ but instead see this title as a challenge,” he added. “What is a father? A father is called to give life. A father is called to make any sacrifice out of love for his children. It is true that by his authority over children, fathers are called to challenge and discipline their children, but always out of love. Fathers are to be willing to lay down their lives to protect their children.

“Aaron, you are called to be a strong, loving and wise father. This does not mean that you have to know all the answers. It does mean that you’re willing to pay any price, make any sacrifice to help your parishioners encounter Jesus and experience his merciful, compassionate love.”

At the end of his homily, the archbishop read a well-known prayer from one of the ordinand’s favorite saints, St. Teresa of Ávila.

Quoting from it, the archbishop said, “Aaron, remember — let nothing frighten you. Know the truth. God alone suffices.”

Father Waldeck spent some of the first moments of his priesthood praying over people, imparting some of the first blessings of his new ministry.

“It was a long road to get here,” he said. But he knows that the end of seminary training means his journey is truly just beginning as a priest.

“I’m excited and ready to serve,” he added.

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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