Although the image of the Catholic priest has been tarnished lately by the sex abuse scandal, the Archdiocese of Denver has announced that it will ordain five men to the priesthood, all of whom say they are joyful at having the chance to live a life “in intimacy with Christ at the service of the Church.”
At the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, five men will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, May 15. Each shared a brief explanation as to why, amid Church scandal and scathing media attacks, they have chosen to commit themselves to a life of celibacy and obedience.
David Nix, 31, remembers working as a paramedic at the age of 19. While attending Mass in uniform one day before his shift, he recalled the parish priest yelling after him, “Have fun saving bodies while I save souls!” From that moment on, said Nix, his heart was stirred. His hope is to model his priesthood after historical Church fathers 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,” Nix said.
Michael Rapp, now 27, heard the call to the priesthood when he was 17. “I was interested in the life and writings of Pope John Paul II, and very concerned about the tragic events at Columbine High School,” he recalled. Rapp explained that God used these “events and desires to move me towards the priesthood.” Later one-on-one talks with Archbishop Charles Chaput further confirmed his decision.
“People are hungry for God,” Rapp asserted. “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, was enjoying a budding career as a mechanical engineer when he experienced several meaningful encounters with priests. After spending a year in Bolivia teaching the poor, where he felt the “joy of service and giving (his) life back to Christ,” Book entered the seminary. When asked what he is most thrilled about in becoming a priest, Book said being a “shepherd – someone entrusted with guiding people to Christ through teaching, witness and the sacraments.”
John Green, 33, said he first felt drawn to becoming a priest when he was 10 years old. Though his family stopped attending church, Green said the call was renewed when he was 20, after “seeing the parish priest and the joy he experienced when celebrating the Mass.”
“I am just looking forward to helping people,” he added. “I hope to be available to people as much as possible.”
A native of Barcelona, Spain, 49-year-old Jose Maria Quera was an architect before entering studies for the priesthood. After a “reopening to the word of God,” Quera became convinced that he was called to “a life of intimacy with Christ as the service of the Church.”
Speaking on the call to celibacy, Quera said, “I am 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.”