By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
The various roads to great rejoicing intersected at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on May 26 when Bishop Edward J. Burns ordained five new priests for the Diocese of Dallas—the most for the diocese in a single day in 21 years.
Three native Texans and natives of Italy and Poland received the Sacrament of Holy Orders as 62 priests joined main celebrant Bishop Burns at the Mass of Ordination for Father Wade Bass, 29, of Dallas; Father James Dorman, 43, of Dallas; Father Stephen Ingram, 30, an Austin native and Dallas resident; Father Radoslaw Michal Markiewicz, 31, from Poland, and Father Giuseppe Spoto, 37, from Italy.
The families and friends of the new priests had come from near and far, and in his homily Bishop Burns—himself the Bishop of Juneau, Alaska, until his Dallas installation last year—integrated the motif of the many roads taken to Dallas and this Ordination Day.
“Being on the road was very much a part of who Jesus was,” Bishop Burns said. “We’re truly called on the road to encounter our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The bishop cited some of Scripture’s prominent roads—to Bethlehem, Calvary, Emmaus and Damascus—as places traveled by Christ and on which people encountered him.
“My brothers, a new journey awaits you, and it is one that truly you must embark upon with great excitement,” Bishop Burns told the new priests. “It’s important that you open yourself to God’s will.
“We are gladdened by your ‘Yes’ to the Lord’s call.”
Bishop Burns invited the congregation and the diocese at large to join him in rejoicing at the largest priesthood ordination class in more than two decades.
“The Holy Spirit is doing beautiful things in Dallas,” said Father Edwin Leonard, the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Dallas. “These are men who seek to serve and not be served. You want all of the priests to be a bridge to Christ. We want good, healthy, happy men who are a bridge to Christ. These five men certainly encapsulate that.”
After the Rite of Ordination, the new priests found themselves surrounded by loved ones and well-wishers, many of whom dropped to their knees to receive blessings from the newly ordained.
“Though priesthood is obviously a new experience, I felt prepared by my seminary formation and ordination seemed like a natural transition after seven years preparing to serve the church,” said Father Bass, who will serve as parochial vicar at St. Monica Catholic Church.
His father, David, said that he recalled when his son felt the Lord calling him while Father Bass was a student at Boston College.
David said that he felt a range of emotions surrounding his son’s ordination.
“It’s a mixture of wonder, amazement and thanksgiving,” he said. “We see God’s hand.”
Father Dorman said that he spent the hours before the Rite of Ordination in prayer. After the ceremony, he said that he felt a great sense of gratitude.
“Wow, it’s such a blessing to be able to serve the church,” said Father Dorman, who will serve as parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, his home parish. “It’s great to have family and friends here. I was very calm. It was a nice, peaceful morning.”
His mother, Carolyn, said that receiving Communion from her son as a priest moved her deeply,
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this day,” she said. “This whole day was just very special.”
Father Ingram, who will serve as parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Plano, also said he felt grateful for his calling and ordination.
“It was a wonderful celebration,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to work with Bishop Burns.”
To have a son ordained to the priesthood was the answer to his prayers, said Father Ingram’s father, John.
“It was the feeling of ‘Wow!’” he said. “There was joy. There’s a great deal of elation and some pride behind it.”
For Father Markiewicz, the day’s Gospel touched him deeply and personally.
“I feel very much loved by the Lord,” said Father Markiewicz, who will serve as parochial vicar at St. Rita Catholic Church. “The Lord was having that dialogue with me, as in the Gospel when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. The dialogue that the Lord was having with me, asking me if I loved him—that was the most important thing to me.”
Father Spoto, who will serve as parochial vicar at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch, joined the Neocatechumenal Way in his native Italy in 2003.
He said he is eager to serve the church and the people.
“It’s a gift that comes from God,” he said. “It is a great gift.”
His brother, Domenico, said that all the family members who traveled from Italy found it a joy to be in Dallas.
“We are very grateful for the hospitality and thank everyone,” he said. “We give many thanks to God. This is a big gift to our family.”
After Father Bass celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving on May 27 at Christ the King Catholic Church, the parish in which he grew up, he said that the weekend signified more than solely a celebration of the five new priests.
“The entire weekend was the Catholic Church living out her identity in its fullness—the people of God joyfully gathered together to celebrate the gift of the priesthood and the Eucharist,” he said. “It was a celebration of the good things God has given us to help us grow in holiness.
“The joy of the Gospel was on full display.”