From left, Dcns. Julian Druffner, Isaiah Schick and Daniel Tracy face an applauding congregation after being presented for ordination by vocations director Fr. Thomas Thompson. (Katzie and Ben Photography)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

An ambiance of joyous solemnity, along with many hundreds of worshippers, filled the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior, on the Feast of Pentecost.

Facing a cathedral overflowing with dozens of priests – both those serving in the Diocese of Superior and visiting – and deacons behind him on the altar, Bishop James P. Powers welcomed all attending the Sunday, May 28, Mass to ordain three new diocesan priests.

“How wonderful it is to have each and every one of you gathered here this day,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that this Pentecost, I think the Spirit is alive and well here in Superior.”

The bishop then addressed the subjects of the celebration: “Dcns. Isaiah Schick, Julian Druffner and Dan Tracy, thank you for your ‘yes.’ Thank you for being the reason for this beautiful celebration.”

This is the first time three men have been ordained to the diocesan priesthood since the 1990s; it was also the first time multiple men have been ordained together at the cathedral, rather than individually at their home parishes, since the 1960s.

Adding to the solemnity of the occasion were the presence of the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree honor guard, who led the procession into the sanctuary, flanking the curve of the altar steps. When the bishop approached, they drew their swords. Incense rising above the altar and the resounding voices led by the Diocesan Chorale filled the worship space with sounds and sights of prayer.

The first and second readings were read by Sr. Miriam of the Child Jesus, MW, and Mary Therese Druffner. The chorale led the sung “Sequence for the Pentecost” liturgy before Capuchin Franciscan Dcn. Nathan Linton proclaimed the Gospel in chant.

Before the homily, Dcn. Patrick Gierl called the candidates for ordination by their full name. One by one, from where they were seated with their families, the young men stood and declared, “present.” They came toward the bishop on the altar and the vocations director for the diocese, Fr. Thomas Thompson, presented them to the bishop and requested their ordination, giving testimony to their worthiness.

“Relying on the help of the Lord God and of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we choose these our brothers for the Order of the Priesthood,” Bishop Powers acclaimed, and the people responded as directed, “Thanks be to God.”

To begin the homily, Bishop Powers again welcomed everyone and smiling, affirmed, “It truly is a superior day for the Diocese of Superior.”

Recognizing the candidates’ parents, siblings and family members and friends, the bishop offered his thanks to the parents “for the nurturing and nourishing” that had formed their sons to be the men of deep faith they are. He thanked their siblings for the times and ways they grounded their brothers in the way “that only a sibling can do.”

He again thanked the families for the gifts of their sons and brothers, so they “might become a father to many.”

The bishop also acknowledged those who were participating in the Mass virtually. Within two days, the livestreamed Mass had been viewed more than 1,000 times.

Bishop Powers named Very Rev. Luke Strand, rector of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee and Very Rev. Raul Gomez-Ruiz, president-rector of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, in his welcome as well as the members of the Holy Cross community who helped form Dcn. Julian Druffner during many years. He also introduced the two auxiliary bishops, Bishop Joseph Williams and Bishop Michael Izen, from the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and Saint Paul; Dcn. Kevin Durand of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and Dcn. Nathan Linton of Cumberland, who will be ordained a priest next month for the Capuchin order.

Commenting on the Gospel, Bishop Powers noted the appearance of Jesus to his apostles, how he shared with them his peace and then sent them forth as he had been sent by his Father.

“He breathes on them saying, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ Just as God had created Adam and breathed the spirit of His life into him, Jesus the Son of God, the new Adam, the Christ creates the church and breathes the Spirit of his life into her. A spirit that will guide and protect, a spirit that will give wisdom, knowledge and courage. Just as Adam was created to know, love and serve God, the church is instituted by Christ to make known God’s love and to serve all people, to lead all people to the immortality of eternal life.”

While he affirmed the common priesthood of the people of God, the bishop spoke directly to the three deacons about to be ordained to the ministerial priesthood. “Dan, Isaiah, Julian – when you were ordained a deacon last year, you began to share in this special call to serve the people of God … That servant character embraced by the deacon doesn’t end with your ordination to priesthood.

“Priestly ordination is not a graduation from the service and ministry of the diaconate, but rather the assuming of the additional roles and responsibilities of the priesthood.”

He presented the example of Jesus acting as deacon in washing the feet of his disciples, “washing the feet of those entrusted to our care.” He went on to call upon the teaching office of the priest, “in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher.”

“You will participate in the sanctifying mission of Christ,” Bishop Powers continued. “You will offer the spiritual gifts of the faith community – the gifts of bread and wine which through your hands and by the power of the Holy Spirit” will be transformed into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.

“Know well what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate,” he advised.

The bishop went on to the describe the ministry administered through the other sacraments. Calling the visitation of the sick one of the most painful and tedious, the bishop emphasized, “Do this. Yes, it is good for the lay faithful and deacons to go, but do not neglect to touch the flesh of the suffering Christ in the sick. This sanctifies you. It brings you closer to Christ.”

Quotes of both Popes Benedict and Francis were referenced, especially in reference to the call to be good shepherds. He then called again on the Holy Spirit, in union with the whole church, to come, into our hearts, into our church, into our homes – come and renew the face of the Earth.

“We pray: Come, Holy Spirit. Come into our brothers, soon-to-be Fathers Julian, Daniel, Isaiah – that they may be good and holy priests of the one true high priest, Jesus Christ.”

He ended with the phrase recited throughout the rite more than once: “My brothers, may God who has begun this good work in you, bring it to completion.”

After the Promise of the Elect in which the candidates declare their resolve to discharge their priestly duties, to preach and celebrate the mysteries of Christ and to give their obedience to the bishop, the Litany of Supplication is offered while the elect prostrate themselves before the altar. The lengthy chant is a particularly solemn moment of the Mass with the interplay of voices between cantor and those assembled.

During the laying on of hands, at which point the elect kneel, the bishop in silence prays for the Holy Spirit to confer his strength. Accompanied by piano music, each brother priest present, as a sign of the oneness of the priesthood, then came forward to also lay hands and pray over each of the three men.

After the Prayer of Ordination, assisting priests came forward to vest the newly ordained with the stole and chasuble which indicate their ministerial office. Fr. John Gerritts and Fr. Andrew Ricci vested Fr. Daniel Tracy; Fr. McConnell assisted Fr. Isaiah Schick; and Holy Cross priest Fr. Steve Lacroix vested Fr. Julian Druffner.

The new priests’ parents then brought forward the bread and wine, which were presented to the bishop who, in turn, presented them to their sons. This exchange is a sign of the priests’ call to conform their life to the mystery of the cross, made present through the humble signs.

Another moment of priestly fraternity is the exchange of an embrace, beginning with Bishop Powers and then continued through all the ordained present. At this point, the chorale led the assembly, singing, “Christ has no body now but yours.”

The Mass of Ordination continued and each of the new priests was invited to pray a part of the Eucharistic Prayer.

Seminarians for the diocese participated at the Mass, Carl Oman as thurifer, Andrew Kreye as cross bearer and Scott Pederson for vimps or the bishop’s episcopal mitre and crosier.

Before the final blessing, cathedral rector Fr. Andrew Ricci gave some indications and addressed each of the newly ordained by “Father” and encouraged applause for the “sweet-sounding words.” The new priests made themselves available to offer their new priestly blessing to anyone wishing to receive it in Kress Hall.

Bishop Powers gave his thanks and asked for a sign of appreciation for all those who made the day such a beautiful celebration.