By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell implored four new priests to be truly present in their parishes and to nourish the people with the Gospel during the Rite of Ordination for the Diocese of Dallas at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on May 31.
Loved ones, friends and well-wishers from the four nations represented by the new priests over-filled the cathedral to witness the dawn of the ministries of Father Juan Carlos Marín Cortés, a native of Colombia; Father Martin M. Mwangi, who is from central Kenya; Father Luca Simbula, a native of Cagliari, Italy, and Father Kevin Wilwert, who grew up in Allen.
More than 100 priests and deacons participated in the rite, the most solemn interlude of which came when the 73 priests present followed Bishop Farrell in laying their hands on the head of each of the newly ordained.
“It is an important day, a day of great change in their lives and, we pray, a great change in the life of the church and the church of the Diocese of Dallas,” Bishop Farrell said in his homily, which drew upon the Gospel to illuminate parish priests’ priorities, the Eucharist as the Food of Life and the sacrament of Reconciliation as the matchless vehicle of God’s forgiveness.
“Today, this day is all about you and Jesus Christ,” Bishop Farrell told the four men. “It is not about the rest of us who are here. More than ever before, it is about you, each one of you, and your response to Jesus Christ. Today is the beginning of a new life for each one of you. Today is a day when Jesus Christ himself chooses you and commissions you to go forth in his name and to preach his word to all people.”
In his homily, the bishop examined the central question of the day’s Gospel, John 21: 15-17, in which Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me more than these?”
“Jesus instructed Peter to care for his sheep, to tend his flock,” Bishop Farrell said. “The shepherd is responsible for every single person in that place where you were assigned.”
July 1 will mark the start of the new priests’ parochial vicar assignments, with Father Marín at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richardson; Father Mwangi at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Plano, Father Simbula at St. Rita Catholic Church in Dallas, and Father Wilwert at St. Ann Catholic Church in Coppell.
Bishop Farrell promised the new priests that their phones will ring almost constantly and parishioners will flock to their door with requests. He advised the priests to go off to pray and then return to meet with the people.
“We must be present to the people of God,” Bishop Farrell said. “We must be present to the sheep. The sheep have to know us. We have to know their names, but they have to know our voice, also.”
After the Rite of Ordination, the new priests gave their first blessings in the cathedral and the adjoining salon. Many in the joyful assembly took pictures of the post-ordination celebrations of the radiant new priests.
Father Mwangi’s family, friends and members of the DFW Kenyan Catholic Community encircled him as they danced and sang a medley of traditional songs in Swahili and several dialects.
“It’s incredible to have four new priests for the diocese,” said Father John Szatkowski, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Dallas. “It’s a blessing that God has allowed this to happen. As a diocese, we have lots and lots of people whom we serve. We’re fortunate to have four new priests, but we need more.”
More photographs from the Rite of Ordination may be found in our photo gallery.