Bishop Ricken gives new priest
a humorous first assignment
GREEN BAY— Laughter isn’t the usual reaction when a newly ordained priest receives hisfirst pastoral assignment from the bishop. But that was the overwhelmingresponse at the conclusion of Fr. Jason Blahnik’s ordination Jan. 3 at St.Francis Xavier Cathedral.
Following the ordination rite and celebration of Mass,Bishop David Ricken read the official announcement of Fr. Blahnik’s newassignment in the Diocese of Green Bay.
“Together with the faithful of this local churchof Green Bay, I am both inspired byand grateful for the generous response you give to God’s call to share in thepriesthood of Jesus Christ. As you are ordained not to be served but to serve,I am pleased to present you with your first priestly assignment as parochialvicar of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne,”said Bishop Ricken, who smiled and quickly apologized, adding that old habitsdie hard.
View audio slideshow
To view an audio slideshow of the ordination, go to this link.
The humorous episode was greeted with a chorus of chucklesfrom the congregation, which included Fr. Blahnik’s parents, Douglas and BettyBlahnik of Stella Maris Parish in Fish Creek, his sister Kristin Blahnik, andhis brother Todd and sister-in-law Crystal.
Bishop Ricken then announced Fr. Blahnik as parochial vicarof St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Oshkosheffective Jan. 3. A contingent of Oshkosh Catholics greeted the news with loudapplause. Bishop Ricken also stated that Fr. Blahnik would serve as sacramentalminister at St. Mary Parish in Omro and St.Mary Parish in Winneconne beginning Jan. 15.
Following the morning ordination liturgy, Fr. Blahnik toldThe Compass that two moments during theceremony — the laying on of hands, the moment in which the Holy Spirit isimparted by the bishop, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist — helped him to graspthe reality of the moment.
“It was the laying on of hands, because I know that’s whenthe bishop’s there and he (recites) the ordination prayer,” said Fr. Blahnik.“That’s when they put the vestments on and you’re like, I’m part of this now.This is who I am and this is who God’s called me to always be.
“The other big one is when you’re stepping around the altar…. I’ve been a deacon for so long and I’m used to standing there and notconcelebrating,” he explained. “I’m sort of like, wow, this is me celebratingthe Mass, just like the rest of the priests. That’s when it really strikesyou.”
Joining Bishop Ricken for the ordination were Bishop RobertMorneau and some 25 priests of the diocese. Fr. Tom Long,vocations director for the diocese, presented Fr. Blahnik to the bishop.Fr. Jacque Beltran, a member of the formation faculty at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein,Ill., testified to Fr. Blahnik’s readinessfor ordination.
“Jason has wholeheartedly engaged and responded to thedemands of priestly formation and he is found worthy to receive the sacredorder of priesthood,” stated Fr. Beltran.
In his homily, Bishop Ricken quoted from the church’s Massfor the Ordination of a Priest, which outlines the newly ordained priest’sresponsibilities.
“Now my son, you are to be raised to the order ofpriesthood. For your part, you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in thename of Christ the teacher,” said Bishop Ricken. “You come from a veryeducation oriented family. Your parents are teachers. Your brother andsister-in-law are teaching and administrating in Catholic schools. You havethis in your blood. You will be able to use this gift of ordination to reallycommunicate effectively the Word of God and the teaching of the church.
“I don’t have the right, none of the priests or deacons,none of the religious teachers of the faith, has the right to make it up as wego along. We are charged with passing on the great heritage that we’ve beengiven with faith — with integrity and creativity and pastoral zeal,” addedBishop Ricken. “I ask you to do that, to use your interest in teaching to makesure that you pass these things on with integrity, but also with great love foryour people.”
Bishop Ricken also asked Fr. Blahnik to “be very faithful tothe church’s liturgy.”
“Pay attention to the rubrics. You should not stifle thelove which you bring to the liturgy, but a reverent respect for the boundariesof the liturgy is very important,” he said. “We’re not here nor given thepermission to make it up as we go. We’re called to live in the harmony with thechurch’s liturgy so that we are praying with the church throughout the world.We’re building that unity and we do so with great love and great passion,especially if we follow the boundaries of the church’s liturgy.”
Following the ordination, Betty Blahnik said she wasoverwhelmed by the ceremony and was happy for her son.
“The ceremony was really beautiful,” she said. “I’ve been tosome, but it doesn’t’ make a difference until you actually are part of it likethis.”
The laying on of hands by Bishop Ricken and by all of thepriests in attendance had the biggest impact on her, she said.
“It became very real that he is a priest. It makes me very,very happy for him — for myself, too, and for everybody else.
She urged other parents to encourage their sons, if and whenthey show an interest in the priesthood.
“I would say if your son even expresses an interest, delveinto it,” she said. “Make an appointment with the vocations director and seewhat happens after that, because it’s real important for them to know that it’sOK. It is a different direction.”
See more photos from the ordination on Page 12A. To view anaudio slideshow of the ordination, go to www.thecompassnews.org.