Bishop ordains three new diocesan priests
Newly ordained Fathers Seth Keller, Michael Fulton and Frank Brown (left to right on carpet) bow for the final blessing from Bishop Robert Brennan at the end of Mass on Saturday, June 13 at St. Joseph Cathedral. The diocesan ordination was delayed for three weeks from its original date because of the COVID-19 pandemic that closed churches for public Masses for more than two months. Photo credit: Ken Snow

This article was originally published in The Catholic Times

The setting may have been more subdued than usual, but the occasion still was joyous as Bishop Robert Brennan ordained three new priests for the Diocese of Columbus on Saturday, June 13 at St. Joseph Cathedral.

In any other year, the cathedral would have been filled with friends and family members of newly ordained Fathers Frank Brown, Michael Fulton and Seth Keller. Most of the diocese’s priests would have been on hand, and the cathedral choir would have provided inspiring music.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ordinations, originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 23, were delayed for three weeks. When the event did occur, attendance was limited to about 70 people, music was provided by an organist and a few singers, and many of the priests were not there to welcome the newly ordained. Most of those who would have been in attendance had to settle for watching a live videostream of the Mass.

“My one sadness today was not seeing the cathedral full,” the bishop said in remarks at the close of the ceremony. “Boy, am I looking forward to seeing you at work, because we’re ready for you.”

After the reading of the Gospel, the rite of ordination began as the candidates for the priesthood, who until then were seated with their families, were called from the congregation and presented to the bishop by Father Paul Noble, diocesan vocations director, who declared them ready for the priesthood.

Each man answered “present” as his name was called and then walked to the altar and was seated on a stool in front of the bishop, who delivered his homily from his chair, rather than the pulpit.

Referring to the change in ordination dates, Bishop Brennan said in his homily, “How appropriate it is, then, that we celebrate your ordination today – not exactly our plan, but it is appropriate on this weekend of (June 14, the Feast of) Corpus Christi we are gathered here to ordain you priests of God. 

“You will offer your Mass of thanksgiving on the solemn feast of the body and blood of Christ. Indeed, through ordination to the priesthood, your service, your very lives are now so identified with the Eucharist, the self-gift of Jesus Christ.

“Every time we eat this bread and drink this chalice, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. In the sacred Eucharist, which you will now celebrate, we encounter the total self-gift of the Lord – his coming among us in self-emptying love through the Incarnation; his life of poverty, pouring out his own self in humble, loving service; his passion and death; and the gift of his own body and blood in the Eucharist for our salvation. He holds nothing back; he gives us his all.

“He speaks directly to you this morning: ‘I call you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. I chose you, and I appoint you to go and bear fruit that will remain.’ He tells us no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
“Jesus entrusts his gift, the laying down of his life and the giving of himself to you in the offering of the sacred liturgy. Never, never cease to be amazed by this gift, by this awesome responsibility.

“Responding to the hand of friendship that Jesus offers to you, you give over yourselves in humility, offering every breath of your life. You are appointed a priest forever, not taking this honor on yourself but in obedience, called and appointed by God. 

“Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ’s own sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery that you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.”

Noting that the ordination took place on the Feast of St. Anthony, Bishop Brennan said to the new priests, “In a day when we celebrate St. Anthony – I know you did your Office of Readings today – St. Anthony reminds us that through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we speak different languages in testifying for Christ – languages of humility, poverty, patience and love. … We are all so very proud and happy to be with and for you. I pledge our fraternal love, support, encouragement and gratitude. Know how much we love and support you and are grateful for the gift of yourselves.”     

 After the homily, each candidate declared he would faithfully serve the people through administration of the sacraments and performance of other priestly duties. Each of the men then knelt before the bishop and promised obedience to him and his successors. They had made similar promises to him when he ordained them as deacons last year.

After their declaration came the congregational chanting of the Litany of the Saints, during which the three men prostrated themselves on the floor around the altar in a gesture of supplication symbolizing their unworthiness. After the litany, each man knelt before the bishop, who laid his hands on their heads one by one in the traditional sign of ordination, with the approximately 20 priests of the diocese who were present repeating that gesture individually. Before laying their hands on each new priest’s head, each priest in attendance was sprayed with hand sanitizer.

This was followed by the bishop’s prayer of ordination and the investiture of the new priests with stoles and chasubles symbolizing their transition from the diaconate to the priesthood.
Each newly ordained priest chose two priests to do the vesting. The priests selected were: for Father Brown, Fathers Stash Dailey and Christopher Tuttle; for Father Fulton, Fathers PJ Brandimarti and James Black; and for Father Keller, Fathers Stephen Alcott, OP, and Vincent Nguyen.

Bishop Brennan then anointed the new priests’ hands with sacred chrism, and the mothers of the priests each presented a chalice and paten to the bishop, who handed them over to the newly ordained to signify their sharing in Christ’s sanctifying ministry of transforming bread and wine into his body and blood. This was followed by a fraternal kiss of peace from the bishop and the priests in attendance, concluding the ordination portion of the Mass.

The newly ordained then joined their fellow priests at the altar to continue celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist and to pronounce the words of consecration for the first time. At Communion, each of the new priests presented the Eucharist to his family members.   

Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a national nonprofit social science research center that studies the Catholic Church, said the diocese’s three new priests are among 448 men who have been or will be ordained this year in the United States from dioceses or religious orders.


CLERGY ASSIGNMENTS

The Diocese of Columbus has released its list of charges in clergy assignments for 2020-21. These appointments become effective July 14, 2020, unless otherwise noted.

  • Father Frank Brown, newly ordained, to Parochial Vicar, St. Brendan the Navigator Church, Hilliard.
  • Father Michael Fulton, newly ordained, to Parochial Vicar, Christ the King Church, Columbus, and Chaplain, with teaching and ministerial duties at Bishop Hartley High School, Columbus.
  • Father Seth Keller, newly ordained, to Parochial Vicar, St. Cecilia Church, Columbus, Chaplain with teaching and ministerial duties at Columbus Bishop Ready High School.