Archdiocese gets nine new priests

| Susan Klemond | May 30, 2016 | 3 Comments

Front, from right are Fathers Neil Bakker, Joseph Zabinski, Mark Pavlak, Kyle Kowalczyk, Michael Daly and Adam Tokashiki (a member of Pro Ecclesia Sancta) during their ordination Mass May 28 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit See more photos at

At priests’ ordination, Christ gives them a new, indelible identity and calls them to focus all their efforts on serving God’s people — who are the Church’s treasure — through charity, God’s word and the sacraments, said Archbishop Bernard Hebda at the May 28 ordination of nine men to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

Chosen for priesthood through the Lord’s brotherly love, priests receive that brotherly love from other priests and the people they serve he told the future priests — the first he has ordained in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — along with 3,200 in attendance.

Eight men were ordained for the archdiocese: Neil Bakker, Michael Daly, Paul Haverstock, Kyle Kowalczyk, Michael McClellan, Matthew Northenscold, Mark Pavlak and Joseph Zabinski. Ordained for the Pro Ecclesia Sancta order was Adam Tokashiki.

Drawing from Pope Francis’ teaching, the archbishop challenged the ordinands to leave their offices and “go out to the peripheries” with their flocks to experience God’s mercy.

“There’s no better way to conform our lives to the mystery of the Lord’s cross than by accompanying our brothers and sisters in the day-to-day and real challenges of life, the challenges that lead them and lead us to Calvary,” he said. “It’s there that Christ waits for us, much as he waits for us in the tabernacle.”

Bishops concelebrating with Archbishop Hebda were Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn, who celebrated the 56th anniversary of his own priestly ordination; Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens; Bishop George Rassas of Chicago and Bishop Arthur Kennedy of Boston.

Following the Gospel in which Jesus asks Peter to feed his sheep, the archbishop called forward the ordinands and asked Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, whether they were worthy to be ordained.

In a separate statement, Msgr. Callaghan said, “What impresses me the most about these newly ordained priests is their ardent desire to celebrate the sacraments with the people of God. . . . Throughout their formation at the St. Paul Seminary, these good men have had some very special opportunities to evangelize in our local parishes, and also to be first-hand witnesses to the universal Church in Ireland, Jerusalem and Rome. They have also been impacted by the living example of mercy in our Holy Father Pope Francis. It is with great joy that we see God continue to work in their lives now as ordained priests. They want to be joyful ambassadors for Christ by showing his mercy and sharing his love.”

Following the archbishop’s homily, the ordinands promised to imitate Christ and to respect and obey the archbishop.

Newly-ordained Father Neil Bakker, 37, said of Archbishop Hebda before the ordination, “I want to do what the Lord’s will is, and it’s going to be made known to me through him,” he said. “I’m so happy to have him as an example. He’s easy to follow . . . a good man with vision and incredible intelligence. Doing what Jesus wants me to do sometimes will be tough, but it will always be joyful.”

Father Michael McClellan, 27, said earlier that he hopes to be an instrument of God’s love and mercy as a priest; and that he is grateful for the archbishop.

“With a new bishop, it’s always a sign that the Church keeps going, and the Lord has given us through Pope Francis a new shepherd for our local Church,” he said. “I look forward to serving him as a priest for this archdiocese for, God willing, a number of years.”

Later in the ordination rite, more than 150 priests from within and outside the archdiocese followed the archbishop by praying for the ordinands in the laying on of hands, an ancient symbol signifying the candidates’ incorporation into the presbyterate. Though they did not lay on hands, dozens of deacons and seminarians also were present at the ordination.

At the close of the ordination rite, the new priests turned their stoles from side to center, indicating priesthood and put on for the first time gold-embroidered chasubles. The Archbishop anointed each priest’s palms with holy chrism oil.

During the ordination, both child and adult Cathedral choristers sang hymns including a ninth-century hymn to the Holy Spirit and a Kyrie in Irish for the Year of Mercy.

Near the end of the ordination rite, representatives of five orders of women religious presented the gifts.

Sister Mary Alphonsus and Sister Maria Christine of the Little Sisters of the Poor later commented on the beauty of the liturgy and ordination rite.

“To have nine priests ordained the same day in the same church, that’s more than hope, it’s really faith,” said Sister Mary Alphonsus, who said some of the new priests have visited the order’s St. Paul Holy Family Residence for the elderly.

Sister Maria Christine, who was visiting from Chicago, said, “It’s very special because it’s the Year of Mercy. It’s absolutely a sign of hope and renewal, always for the Church.”

John Jr. and Linda Northenscold, members of St. Timothy in Maple Lake, were proud to witness the ordination of their son, Father Matthew Northenscold. Linda, 56, said she appreciated “the whole brotherhood that happens, and all the priests are invited to come up and lay their hands on. It’s always so beautiful because Matthew doesn’t have any brothers, and now he has a lot of them.”

“I’m overjoyed and humbled at the same time, and I’m well aware of all the people who kept him in prayers and have formed him over the years outside of our household, and we’re very blessed,” said John, 57.

Tia Ellis, 20, who attends the Cathedral of St. Mary in St. Cloud, came to support Father Joseph Zabinski, a friend of her family and her brother, Father Joah Ellis, who was ordained for the archdiocese three years ago. She said of Father Zabinski, “I think if anything, we’re really, really proud of him because he worked hard. He definitely loves to talk to people.”

Mark and Jami Pogue of St. Hubert in Chanhassen attended their first ordination to support Father Michael Daly, the son of close friends. Mark, 55, said Father Daly is a gifted young man who will be a great servant and leader.

“He carries the legacy of his parents, who run a surgery center in Honduras and are offering their lives for the Lord and the Church, said Jami, 48. “I feel like Michael has so much to offer and has a heart to do that also.”

Jonathan and Misha McGovern of Steubenville, Ohio, happened to visit the Cathedral at the end of the ordination and received a blessing from Father Neil Bakker.

“I’m just excited that there are more priests and that these nine guys are willing to step outside of what society says and follow God and his goal for them in their lives,” said Misha, 30. “They seem to be on fire. I can feel it in here.”

Neil Bakker

Michael Daly

Paul Haverstock

Kyle Kowalczyk

Michael McClellan

Matthew Northenscold

Mark Pavlak

Joseph Zabinski

Adam Tokashiki, P.E.S.

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