Ten new priests bless archbishops, bishop at ordination Mass

| May 28, 2017 | 3 Comments

The 10 newly ordained priests react to a remark by Archbishop Bernard Hebda at the conclusion of their ordination Mass May 27 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Front row, from left: Fathers Timothy Sandquist, Timothy Wratkowski, Bryce Evans, Brandon Theisen and Ben Wittnebel. Back row: Fathers Nicholas Froehle, left, Paul Baker and Nicholas Hagen. Not visible: Fathers Matthew Quail and Chad VanHoose. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop Bernard Hebda offered a unique opportunity to the 10 newly ordained priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis May 27.

“Now, bishops don’t get too many prerogatives, but I’m calling in one of them today, and that’s that we bishops might receive the first blessings of these newly ordained priests,” said Archbishop Hebda during the concluding rites of the ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

Archbishop Hebda, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens and Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn knelt in front of the altar as each new priest came and blessed them individually. The archbishops and bishop in turn kissed the hands of the newly ordained. Those rituals normally happen following the ordination in one of the Cathedral’s side chapels.

“It was just very humbling, and I think edifying, just to see the leaders of our local Church there present and willing to receive our blessing,” said newly-ordained Father Brandon Theisen.

Immediately afterward, the new priests and Archbishop Hebda offered a final blessing to the more than 3,000 people in a standing-room only crowd at the Cathedral.

In Catholic tradition, receiving the first blessing of a newly ordained priest is considered a special privilege. Catholics can receive a plenary indulgence when blessed by a first-year priest.


Read profiles of the newly ordained priests:

The blessings concluded one of the largest ordination Masses in the U.S. this year. Only the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, with 13 ordinands, will ordain more priests this year, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate’s “The Class of 2017: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood.” This was the archdiocese’s largest class of new priests since 2013.

“I had so much joy,” said archdiocesan ordinand Father Benjamin Wittnebel about the ordination liturgy.

In his homily, Archbishop Hebda called the final days of the Easter season a fitting time to ordain men to the priesthood. The Church turns her attention to praying “fervently for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit” after the feast of the Ascension, celebrated May 28 this year.

“For the ordained, priesthood and the Eucharist, with which it is so closely connected, are part and parcel of Christ’s plan to sustain his work beyond the Ascension through the Church,” Archbishop Hebda said.

He said that mission includes “sustaining the people” with the sacraments and the preaching of the Gospel. It also means leading the people “in going forth into the world, offering an encounter with God’s love and mercy,” he added.

“Our heavenly father appoints ministers through Christ, his son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, arranging them in different orders — deacon, priest and bishop,” Archbishop Hebda said. “The [opening] prayer makes it clear that ordained priests aren’t the end, but the means — the means to forming a priestly people.”

Father Paul Baker said he was moved by Archbishop Hebda’s recount of visiting Calvary Cemetery to remember past clergy of the archdiocese. The new priest reflected on how he’s “going to be part of the mission that they started” here.

Father Theisen appreciated how Archbishop Hebda shared his prayer intention for the time when the men lie prostrate during the ordination rite. The archbishop said he would pray for the ordinands to have the hearts of shepherds.

Ordained priests were Fathers Baker, 30; Bryce Evans, 33; Nicholas Froehle, 25; Nicholas Hagen, 26; Matthew Quail, 30; Timothy Sandquist, 27; Theisen, 28; Chad VanHoose, 34; Wittnebel, 32; and Timothy Wratkowski, 26. Fathers Hagen and Wratkowski studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome; the other eight studied at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

The newly ordained priests celebrated their first Masses of thanksgiving May 28 at various parishes. Priest friends, seminary classmates, family and friends of the ordinands joined them at the liturgies.

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  • Toni Jaeger

    This is wonderful! To our new priests: Keep moving on!

  • Cajetan

    Catholic priesthood is an espression of love of GOD to mankind and man’s reponse to this call.This love of GOD is CHRISTOCENTRIC,revolving on the cross of redemption for the sanctification of humanity.Redemption of man is ever continouos as CHRIST ordained,hence HE said’HOC FACITE IN MEAM COMMEMORATIONEM’ Lk 22:19.
    Congratulations as you were raised to the sarcedotal order of priesthood in the order of MELCHISEDECH of the old under the apostolic succession of Archbishop Bernard Hebda

  • Larry Norris

    Also glad to see so many young priests. Nothing wrong with having older men hearing the call, but sometimes they represent a large percentage in some dioceses, but your diocese is attracting young men and that’s great.