by Marc and Julie Anderson
LEAWOOD — A priest does not become a priest on his own. Starting with his parents, countless people shape his life.
To honor that fact, Fathers Jonathan Dizon, Dan Morris, Matt Nagle and Daniel Stover revived a somewhat lost tradition and presented gifts to their families during their Masses of thanksgiving, celebrated at their home parishes on May 24.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann ordained all four men to the priesthood on May 23 at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Leawood before a crowd of more than 1,000.
In his homily, the archbishop discussed the importance of family life on priestly formation, singling out the ordinands’ parents and family for attention.
“Parents are the first teachers of the faith, and usually the most influential teachers,” he said. “We thank you for being the first to introduce your sons to God, to Jesus, for teaching them to pray, helping them to understand the faith. You were their first theology teachers and spiritual directors.”
The archbishop also reflected on the influence priests have on the families they encounter during their priestly ministry.
“We priests are given the privilege of becoming part of hundreds — and if you live long enough — thousands of families’ lives,” he said. “The Lord will give you incredible opportunities to become part of the lives of so many people, so many families. This is both a great privilege but also a great responsibility.
“As we heard the words of the prophet Isaiah this morning, you are being anointed today to bring glad tidings, to heal the brokenhearted, to comfort all who mourn, to give them a glorious mantle in place of a listless spirit.”
Anointing has a special meaning in the ordination rite. A priest’s hands are anointed with sacred chrism, preparing them for the duties he will perform throughout his ministry. The rite also includes the laying on of hands by the archbishop and the priests in attendance, the presentation of the chalice and the paten, and the investiture of the stole and chasuble.
A reception followed the ordination Mass, during which the new priests offered their first blessings. During a break, Father Stover was asked what his ordination day meant.
“I have no words,” said Father Stover. “I’m just thrilled.”
Father Matt Nagle also seemed overcome with emotion.
“It has been an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s hard to describe.”
For Father Jonathan Dizon, the day brought much joy as it meant the start of his priestly ministry.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s truly a blessed day.” He added that he looks forward to celebrating Mass and hearing confessions, as they represent the heart of the priestly ministry.
Following the reception, the priests were honored at celebratory dinners for their families and close friends. The next day, the four offered Masses in their home parishes, including the Topeka parishes of Sacred Heart-St. Joseph and Most Pure Heart of Mary, the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence, and Cure of Ars in Leawood.
The newly ordained priests will start their first assignments on July 1. Father Morris is assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee and as chaplain of St. James Academy in Lenexa; Father Stover’s first assignment is to St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee and as assistant chaplain of Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park; Father Dizon will serve at Most Pure Heart of Mary and as chaplain of the nearby Catholic Campus Center at Washburn University; and Father Matt Nagle has been assigned to St. Michael the Archangel Parish and as chaplain of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park.