Earlier this month, two friars from two provinces, Holy Name and St. John the Baptist, celebrated ordinations – one to the diaconate and one to the priesthood. The following story is based on information provided by John Aherne, OFM, who was ordained a deacon; Toni Cashinelli, director of communications for St. John the Baptist Province; and Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM.
CINCINNATI – On Saturday, June 10, at St. Clement Church, John Aherne, OFM, was ordained to the diaconate and Fr. Colin King, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, was ordained to the presbyterate in a joint liturgical ceremony. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer of Cincinnati was the ordaining prelate. Br. Bob Barko, OFM, and Br. Marc Sheckells, OFM, both of Sacred Heart Province, served as deacon and thurifer. Juan de la Cruz Turcios, OFM, served as acolyte.
The celebration was marked by deep joy and genuine fraternal affection. “It’s an honor to welcome you on behalf of many people,” said Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM, provincial minister of St. John the Baptist Province, to the assembly at the outset of the liturgy, recognizing the family members and friends who had travelled from great distances, along with friars from Holy Name Province, Sacred Heart Province, Christ the King Province, and numerous friars from St. John the Baptist Province who were in attendance.
“This is a great thing,” said Juan. “It helps us to get to know each other.” A similar sentiment was expressed by Bishop Binzer in his homily, when he described the joint ordination as “a wonderful opportunity. It’s the provinces working together as they continue their conversations” about revitalization and reconfiguration.
“I’m happy,” shared John’s mother Bridget, who had traveled with her husband Daniel and sister-in-law Margaret from Queens, N.Y. She recalled how years ago, the religious sisters at their home parish were impressed with young John’s ability to train other altar servers. “He had it in his head” to enter religious life, she noted, and “I had it in my mind, too!”
Joseph Cavoto, OFM, and Joseph Rozansky, OFM, vested John during the ordination. Joe Cavoto recalled how he “would see John at Mass in the morning” at St. Francis Church on 31st Street. “He just had such a look about him. I could see something was going on. Then he started to lector at Mass.” One day over coffee, Joe asked John, “Have you ever thought about religious life?” Within a year, John had applied to the postulancy program of Holy Name Province. “As a deacon,” Joe continued, “I think he is going to go to the hearts of people—especially those who have suffered. That’s where he wants to go.”
In his homily, Bishop Binzer reflected on the nature of ordained ministry in the Church. “John and Colin, as you are ordained you will serve in imitation of Jesus Christ. What an awesome example our sweet Lord gives to us. You will have the opportunity to reach out in love to others.” He cautioned, “We serve not by our strength, but by the strength of Jesus Christ,” and therefore urged John and Colin to “pray without ceasing. You can be fishers of men and women only after you realize that we have been caught by the tenderness of God’s love.” Bishop Binzer further elaborated: “If we depended only on our own strength, it would be easy to be frustrated. So continue to stretch out your hands to the Lord and call on him. Know that we are also here to support you and love you. May the fullness of God’s peace, blessings and grace be upon you each and every day.”
John explained how it was that he came to be ordained in Cincinnati, a first for a friar of Holy Name Province. “At dinner one evening at Blessed Giles, the interprovincial friary in Chicago where I live with Juan and Daniel Horan, OFM, from Holy Name Province, along with Colin, Br. John Barker, OFM, and Fr. Henry Beck, OFM, from St. John the Baptist Province, Colin and I got to talking about his upcoming ordination to the priesthood. Somewhere around dessert, he asked me if I would consider being ordained a deacon at the same liturgy.”
“It instantly made sense to both of us on a number of levels,” continued John, who professed solemn vows last year. “First, neither of us particularly wanted to be ordained alone – this just didn’t seem to fit with our commitment to our fraternal life. Second, with all the good and necessary conversations about revitalization and reconfiguration of the provinces in the United States, we thought a joint ordination would be a great way to make this abstract reality come to life; it would be a joyous way to live into this reality. Both of our formation programs were interprovincial from the very beginning, and our paths had crossed again and again throughout the years. Because of this, neither of us felt as if we were being ordained with ‘someone from another province.’ We both felt as if we were being ordained with a true and trusted brother. Finally, I’m not very good at logistics, and Colin had already booked the church, the bishop and the musicians. I was sold.”
Not surprisingly, John happily accepted Colin’s “very gracious invitation.” And neither he nor anyone in attendance at St. Clement’s was disappointed. In recalling the celebration, John wrote: “There is a lot I will treasure about that day: the presence of my family and my Holy Name brothers at the liturgy, Bishop Binzer’s wonderful homily, and hearing my guardian John Barker sing the ‘Litany of the Saints.’ But what I will most remember is the feeling that although I was about 600 miles from the center of my province, since I was surrounded by my brothers from Holy Name, St. John the Baptist, Sacred Heart and Christ the King, I felt as if I was being ordained right at home.”
Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, shared the sentiment in his remarks at the close of the liturgy. After offering congratulations on behalf of all the friars of Holy Name Province to Colin and John, and offering a very special thanks to their parents and families, Larry recalled how St. Francis rejoiced that the Lord had given him brothers. “Today, we feel doubly blessed in being part of this interprovincial celebration where the Lord has given us so many brothers together.” Juan expressed the same joy: “It’s amazing to know there is so much in common. We share the same story. In the end, we are just one big family.”
- “USFranciscans.org Connects Friars From Across the Country” – March 29, 2017, HNP Today
- “Three Friars Profess Solemn Vows – and Gratitude” – Sept. 2, 2016, HNP Today
- “Franciscans Launch Plan for Revitalization” – March 4, 2015, HNP Today