“Let your homilies not be boring,” the Most Rev. David E. Fellhauer told four future priests and a deacon Saturday.
“Good luck, Max,” the smirking bishop said as he looked to Max Landman, drawing laughs from an audience of more than 1,000. Landman soon would walk out of Holy Family Church a deacon.
The bishop of the Diocese of Victoria echoed Pope Francis’ words, which he said when addressing new priests during an ordination in April.
Undoubtedly a formal ceremony, the ordination to the Order of the Diaconate and Order of the Priesthood on Saturday carried light and emotional moments. Loved ones and other supporters watched as five men resolved to dedicate their lives to their faith and serving others.
Francis Nguyen, 52, of Houston; Kristopher Fuchs, 28, of Needville; Scott Hill, 27, of Mentz; and Jacob Koether, 27, of Bay City became priests Saturday during a ceremony at Holy Family Church. Landman, 28, of Uvalde, became a deacon. He will be ordained a priest in 2016.
The men are needed especially in greater society, where obedience to God is not highly valued, the bishop noted.
“But in the church, the alternative to obedience is chaos,” he said.
The journey the men will endure is not an easy one, the bishop said. Being a priest, he added, requires putting aside plans and comfort for the sake of others.
“Parents do this all the time,” he said. “So must spiritual fathers.”
With jovial and solemn expressions, the soon-to-be priests moved in unison, presenting themselves before the church as worthy of their holy duties and were vested with attire representing their role in the worship and communal life. A graduation of sorts, excited family and other loved ones fed off that energy, bouncing in place in some guests’ cases and feverishly clicking photos on their cameras and phones.
After the ceremony, the men’s work already had begun, as guests fell to their knees, after asking for blessings.
“For me, it’s almost hard to believe,” Hill said.
Hill said he had been preparing for seven years for Saturday. He was assigned to Port Lavaca.
“I think it’ll take a while for it to sink in,” he added. “I’m just really overwhelmed.”
Koether said he was elated. He was assigned to Holy Family Church.
“It’s interesting because it’s all so new,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like I’m a priest.”
When guests fell to their knees before him asking for his hand and prayers, he stayed in place and extended his hands, hovering over their heads.
“It’s going to take some getting used to,” he said. “It helps me keep reflecting on what happened to me today.”
Nguyen gave blessings during the reception that followed.
“I feel very happy, and it’s a wonderful celebration,” said Nguyen, who was assigned to El Campo. “I’m very humbled.”
Fuchs said offering blessings as a priest is something he’ll need to adjust to but will also be a joyous occasion, he said.
“There’s so much peace in my life right now,” said Fuchs, who was assigned to Our Lady of Victory Cathedral.
Landman said he was nervous at first, then felt much peace.
“It was pretty natural from there,” said Landman, whose assignment is will be in Weimar.
Faith means everything, he added.
“Jesus is the answer to all problems,” Landman said.
Emily Yeary, a parish secretary at Our Lady of Lourdes*, attended the ordination to show support, because the men’s work won’t be easy.
“They need prayers and support,” she said.
*Correction, June 7, 2015: Emily Yeary is a parish secretary for Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. The church’s name was misspelled.