Friday, 04 June 2010 08:35

Cardinal George ordains two men to diocesan priesthood

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After the ordination Mass, the new priests pose for pictures on the steps of the cathedral. Pictured (l-r) are:  Archbishop Gregory Kpiebaya, Father Paul Kala, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Father Stephen Thompson and Msgr. Carl Kemme.It was a lovely day both outside and inside the newly-restored Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield on the morning of Saturday, May 29, as Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago ordained Wood River native Father Stephen A. Thompson and Ghana, West Africa native Father Paul Kala to the diocesan priesthood.

The priests’ ordination was attended by Archbishop Gregory Kpiebaya, the archbishop emeritus of Tamale in Ghana, dozens of priests as well as hundreds of lay supporters and took place a little over three weeks prior to the installation of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

In acknowledgement of Msgr. Carl Kemme’s work as diocesan administrator these past 11 months, Cardinal George asked Msgr. Kemme to deliver the homily. While addressing the congregation Msgr. Kemme noted that Father Thompson and Father Kala were to be ordained just prior to the close of the Year for Priests.

Just after the assent of the assembly and shortly before the ordination, the priests applaud for Deacon Paul Kala and Deacon Stephen A. Thompson as they stand in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.“Many times during this year, Pope Benedict XVI has held up St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, as a model of the priesthood,” said Msgr. Kemme, noting that from the beginning of the saint’s priesthood, he worked hard to save souls.  “… as a priest St. John Vianney rolled up his sleeves and won soul after soul for Christ,” he said.

“My brothers Stephen and Paul, today you stand at the beginning of your priestly life. Today you entrust the remainder of your lives to Christ,” he said. “I pray, Paul and Stephen, that you rarely utter the words, ‘No, I won’t.’ For only in surrendering completely and totally to his will, will you know freedom.”

To the longer-ordained priests, Msgr. Kemme said, “My brother priests, these men here to be ordained are a gift to us … a great gift never to be taken for granted.” He then urged the new priests to “put your hands to the plow for Christ.”

Msgr. Kemme asked that all priests pray especially to Mary. “As we gather today, no one rejoices more than our Blessed Mother,” he said. “She truly is the mother of God and she is the mother of priests. In pleasing her, we please Christ her son. May Paul and Stephen, as new priests, receive Mary’s mantle of loving protection.”

After the homily, Father Thompson and Father Kala each made their promises to the priesthood and lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly prayed the Litany of the Saints. The ordinations also included the laying on of hands by Cardinal George and the priests and the prayer of ordination just before the two men received their chasubles.

After making their promises for the priesthood, the two men lie prostrate on the sanctuary floor while the assembly prays the Litany of the Saints.Next, Cardinal George anointed the new priests’ hands with the chrism that was blessed at the chrism Mass during Holy Week this year and Father Kala and Father Thompson received the bread and wine. Finally, Cardinal George gave the fraternal kiss to both Father Thompson and Father Kala, and the priests did the same, welcoming them to their ministry. The liturgy resumed with both new priests concelebrating.

As the ordination ended, Cardinal George spoke informally to the congregation, and asked the two new priests to give him the traditional first blessing. Following Mass Father Kala and Father Thompson stepped out on the steps of the cathedral, where they were greeted with the joyous applause of their fellow diocesan priests. They gave their blessing to many who had gathered in their support and then attended a reception in their honor in the new Cathedral atrium.

Father Thompson is expected to begin his priestly service as parochial vicar at Cathedral Parish, while Father Kala is expected to be a parochial vicar at St. Paul Parish in Highland.

At the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on May 29, Father Stephen Thompson and Father Paul Kala were ordained to the diocesan priesthood. Here, during the ordination liturgy Cardinal Francis George, OMI, lays hands on Father Thompson. Just moments after the priests were ordained, Father Dean Probst lays hands on Father Kala while Father Aloysius Ndeanaefo lays hands on Father Thompson.
Father Paul Kala gives the traditional first blessing to Cardinal George. Father Thompson and Father Kala (on either side and behind Cardinal George) concelebrate Mass shortly after their ordination.
Following Mass, members of the African music ensemble carry their instruments from the cathedral. The newly-ordained Father Thompson gives a blessing to Father David Hoefler, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield, and Father Peter Harman, pastor of Cathedral Parish.

After the ordination, well-wishes gathered outside the cathedral to congratulate the new priests. Here Father Kala gives a blessing to one of the women who attended the May 29 ordination.