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May 11, 2010
Why are these men becoming Catholic priests?
Young men thrilled at opportunity to serve God, save souls
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 15 in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., will ordain five men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Denver.
Michael Rapp, 27, raised in Centennial, first heard God call him to the priesthood at the age of 17. “I was interested in the life and writings of [the late] Pope John Paul II, and very concerned about the tragic events at Columbine High School. God used [these] events and desires to move me towards the priesthood.” One-on-one conversations with Archbishop Chaput confirmed his decision. “People are hungry for God. If I wear a collar out on the street, people will regularly meet me with curious glances, questions about the Church or about God, challenges and resentments, requests for prayers, and other countless surprises. It’s part of the great adventure of priesthood!”
Matthew Book, 36, first felt the call in his twenties, after several impactful encounters with priests amidst a budding career in mechanical engineering. Book committed to a year of teaching the poor in Bolivia, where he experienced the “joy of service and giving [his] life back to Christ.” He entered the seminary upon his return. When asked what excites him most about the priesthood, he simply said, “Being a shepherd – someone entrusted with guiding people to Christ through teaching, witness and the sacraments.”
David Nix, 31, began working as an ambulance paramedic at the age of 19. As he departed in uniform from the Church one morning, after having attended an early weekday Mass before his shift, his parish priest called out, “Have fun saving bodies while I save souls!” From that moment on, Nix’s heart was stirred. Nix hopes to model his own priesthood according to the example of historical priests like St. Paul. “They not only became loving men, but were transformed into Love itself – into the face of Jesus – by clinging to Christ with an undivided heart in prayer.”
John Green, 33, first felt God calling him to be a priest at the age of 10. The calling fell into the shadows for a time, when his family stopped attending church. But at the age of 20, upon “seeing the parish priest and the joy he experienced when celebrating the Mass,” Green renewed his discernment. When asked what excites him most about the priesthood, he responds, “I am just looking forward to helping people…I hope to be available to the people as much as possible.”
Jose Maria Quera, 49, native of Barcelona, Spain, was an architect by trade. Over time, Quera began to reflect on the priesthood and eventually, through what he calls a “reopening to the Word of God,” became convinced of a calling in that direction - a calling to “a life of intimacy with Christ at the service of the Church.” When asked about the call to remain celibate, he responded: “I’m choosing this life because I believe that the one who has chosen me to live this way is God, and since it is God who calls me to live this life, He will also make this life possible in me….He knows the best way for me to be fulfilled.”
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate recently released national statistics regarding men preparing for the Catholic priesthood. Denver’s ordinands largely fit the national trends, which include a national average age of 37 at the time of ordination, and a national trend towards experiencing the first “call” in their late teenage years.
In addition to the men listed above, five additional men who have received their training at Denver’s seminaries will be ordained in their respective home dioceses. Their names and scheduled ordinations dates are as follows:
Matthew Henry (Diocese of Phoenix): June 10 in Phoenix, Ariz.;
Timothy Martinson (Diocese of Cheyenne): May 24 in Worland, Wyo.
Peter O’Donnell (Diocese of Salina): May 22 in Salina, Kan.
David Price (Diocese of Colorado Springs): May 29 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Kerry Wakulich (Diocese of Tulsa): May 29 in Tulsa, Okla.
All of the above men were ordained deacons during the fall of 2009, as a preliminary step towards their ordination to the priesthood. Their ordination will mark the culmination of nearly a decade of prayer and study at Denver’s two Catholic seminaries, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary.
The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is located at 1530 Logan Street in Denver. Members of the media are warmly invited to attend. To RSVP, please contact Jeanette DeMelo, director of communications, at (303) 715-3230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former electrician, engineer, student to be ordained priests
Interview responses from Deacon John Green, Deacon Matthew Book and Deacon Michael Rapp
By Denver Catholic Register, May 12, 2010
Former paramedic, architect to be ordained to the priesthood
Interview responses from two of the five seminarians scheduled to be ordained: Deacon David Nix and Deacon Jose Maria Quera
By Denver Catholic Register, April 5, 2010
Complete interviews with all five of Denver's ordinands
By Denver Catholic Register, September 23, 2009