Four men, including first American-born Hmong priest, ordained for archdiocese

| May 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

Archbishop Bernard Hebda and fellow clergy pray during the litany of the saints as the four men to be ordained priests lay prostrate at the ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul May 26. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Many Hmong-American Catholics came to the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul dressed in their decorated native attire to celebrate the first American-born Hmong man to be ordained a priest in the U.S.

“I think there’s going to be a new spring in the Hmong Catholic community across the entire United States,” said Long Her of Fresno, California.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda ordained Fathers Toulee Peter Ly, Aric Aamodt, Colin Jones and Matthew Shireman to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis May 26.

“It really is a beautiful reflection on this local Church that we would have these four men who came to know Christ here, who were native to our area,” Archbishop Hebda said during his homily.

Though a Twin Cities native, Father Ly had Hmong-American Catholic guests at the Mass from around the U.S. — California, Colorado and Wisconsin. A parishioner of Our Lady of Victory in Fresno, Her read the first reading at the ordination Mass in Hmong.

“In a special way, it was a nod just to the community here to kind of inspire them … just that our Lord came to save all nations, and that means everyone in the Church,” Father Ly said following the Mass.

Father Toulee Peter Ly (third from left) became the first American-born Hmong priest in the United States May 26 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Pau. Father Ly was one of four priests ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis along with (from left): Fathers Aric Aamodt, Colin Jones and Matthew Shireman. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Father Ly grew up in the Hmong-American-serving church of St. Vincent de Paul in St. Paul. He found vocational inspiration from three clergy — Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Father Joseph Johnson and Father John Paul Erickson — who served there during his upbringing. All three had a role in the ordination Mass. Bishop Cozzens laid hands on Father Ly during the ordination rite, and Fathers Johnson and Erickson assisted with vesting Father Ly with his stole and chasuble.

“They all had a significant part just helping me to build that foundation,” Father Ly said about their time at St. Vincent de Paul.

Assigned to St. John Neumann in Eagan, Father Ly also looks forward to ministering to the Hmong Catholic community in the archdiocese. That includes St. Vincent de Paul and St. Patrick in St. Paul, which also has a Hmong Mass. Both parishes had parishioners on hand for the ordination.

Catholics from throughout the archdiocese filled the Cathedral to celebrate the four new priests. Archbishop Hebda took time to recognize the families of the ordinands and the people who helped form the new priests on their journey to the altar. That included Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, who will conclude his tenure as rector this summer.

“I had Monsignor for all seven years of my seminary [formation],” said Father Shireman, who’ll serve at St. Stephen in Anoka. “What a model of priesthood there. I feel honored that I was able to get ordained under his watch.”

Father Aamodt will serve at St. Hubert in Chanhassen, and Father Jones will serve at Epiphany in Coon Rapids.

Archbishop Hebda mentioned the names of the suburbs where the priests would be going during his homily. The ordinands learned about their assignments May 24. The archbishop tied the assignments with St. Philip Neri, a priest of the 1500s whose feast day is May 26.

“At a time when many were leaving the Church and many of those who had stayed were corrupt … Philip’s authentic and humble and steady witness to Christ the high priest, that gentle and joyful high priest, sowed the seeds of true renewal in Rome,” Archbishop Hebda said. “Four and a half centuries later, St. Philip is still recognized as the apostle of Rome.”

“He [God] knows that we need not only an apostle of Rome, but [also] an apostle of Anoka and an apostle of Coon Rapids and an apostle of Eagan and an apostle of Chanhassen,” he added.

Masses of thanksgiving for the new priests will take place May 27 at parishes of their choosing, usually a priest’s home parish or one from a seminary assignment.

  • Father Aamodt will preside at the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Odilia in Shoreview.
  • Father Jones will celebrate the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony.
  • Father Ly will preside at the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Vincent de Paul in St. Paul.
  • Father Shireman will celebrate the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Therese in Deephaven.

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