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June 22, 2015 | Volume 90 Number 17


Three Ordained
Bishop reflects upon the call to priesthood

What is happiness and how can it be achieved?

These questions were asked rhetorically by Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo in his homily at the ordination of three men to the priesthood June 6 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

Obviously, the Bishop was thinking of Daniel Andrew Cogut, Matthew Allen Kiehl and Nicholas Mammi, the three who were about to be ordained.

But he began by asking another question “What is the American dream?”

“The dream has always been money, success, power, freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Bishop DiLorenzo said.

“For some it is important to have a strong central government to take care of all,” he said. “Others want less government.”

With all that, Americans have choices they feel can make them happy. And there are a variety of choices reflecting different points of view, the Bishop asserted.

“With the secularization of the culture the narrative reported by the media seems to be that religion, because of its constraints, is the cause of unhappiness for some,” Bishop DiLorenzo said.

A recent survey reports that 40 to 50 percent of Americans are unhappy with their jobs.

But Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, now on the faculty of the School of Theology at the Catholic University of America, did a survey and found that 90 percent of Catholic priests are happy in their vocation.

“The vast majority of Catholic clergy are happy in what they’re doing,” Bishop DiLorenzo said and then added he felt he was one of them.

“I’ve been doing this for 47 years,” Bishop DiLorenzo said. “I can truly say I’m happy.

Citing the three men who were to be ordained the priesthood, Bishop DiLorenzo pointed out “these three men are called to evangelize and embrace the Gospel.”

While those in the world are looking for happiness and fulfillment in this life, the message of the priest is to announce to others that one must realize there will be fulfillment in the life to come if we do God’s loving will.

“These three young men also need to pursue human happiness because they are part of this culture,” Bishop DiLorenzo said. “But they are seeking, through God’s help, to find fulfillment in their chosen vocation.”

click to watch ordination videoIn making the promise of obedience to the Bishop and his successors, the three men actually made several promises.

“They promise to exercise the ministry of the word, reaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith worthily and wisely.

“They promise to celebrate faithfully and reverently the mysteries of Christ, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people.

“They promise to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to their care through their prayer.

“They promise, with the help of God, to be united to Christ the High Priest and be consecrated to God for the salvation of all.”

The Laying on of Hands, another major sign of the ordination liturgy, involved each of the three men kneeling before the Bishop, while in silence, the Bishop lays his hands on their heads.

The gesture, rooted in Scripture and the Tradition of the Church, signifies the conferral of the Holy Spirit.

Clearly the laity in the Cathedral felt connected to the three new priests as evidenced by their strong and prolonged applause as the newly ordained stood from the altar looking at the congregation.

“These three men will be serving you and your religious and spiritual needs and they need support and cooperation,” the Bishop said.

“My wish is that these three young men have happiness here on earth and fulfillment in the life to come.”

These words seemed to echo the part of the liturgy in which the Bishop says: “May God, who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment.”

Joy radiated through the entire congregation.

“We’re so proud of him,” said Mark Kiehl, father of newly ordained Father Kiehl.

“I’m so overjoyed,” said Leslie Kiehl, Father Kiehl’s mother.

“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” Victoria Cogut, mother of Father Cogut, told The Catholic Virginian before the liturgy began.

Asked if she was at first surprised when her son told her he wanted to be a priest, Mrs. Cogut replied, “I was not surprised because I had been praying that God had planted a seed in his heart to consider the priesthood.

Then she related a conversation she had with Father Cogut after he had been accepted into the Diocese of Richmond’s priestly formation program but was waiting to learn of acceptance to St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore for theology studies.

“Son, could you wait a couple of years?,” Mrs. Cogut asked.

“Why, Mom?,” he asked

“To travel and to work.”

“My spiritual director and I believe this is the right time.”

“Okay, you won’t hear another word from me,” Mrs. Cogut responded.

Most likely the oldest person at the ordination was Irene Nilson, Father Kiehl’s paternal great-grandmother who will be 105 in July.

“I am very excited,” said Lee Mitessen, Father Kiehl’s maternal grandmother. “I think it’s a life-long fulfillment for Matt and that’s the important part.”

Tim Flagg, a member of Holy Name of Mary Parish in Bedford, told The Catholic Virginian that he came to the ordination because Father Mammi had been a friend for perhaps 10 years. He had also known Father David Stanfill, pastor of Holy Rosary, Richmond, even a longer period of time. Both men pursued a journey to the priesthood after their wives died.

“I worked with Father Stanfill from when I was in my 20s before I was married and up through child number five,” he said.

“To see two men I know who share a similar story moved me to tears.”

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