Two Friars Ordained Priests in Maryland

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Stephen DeWitt, OFM, and Daniel Horan, OFM, were ordained priests on May 19 at St. Camillus Church. They experienced a day of joy and of gratitude under bright skies, a stark contrast to the hurricane that prevailed on the day of their final profession last year in New York City.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., and an affiliate of Holy Name Province, celebrated the Rite of Presbyteral Ordination at a 10:30 a.m. Mass.

The concelebrants of the Saturday morning liturgy were Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM; Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, the HNP secretary of formation; and Thomas Conway, OFM, guardian of Holy Name College and the Province’s director of post-novitiate formation. Christopher Coccia, OFM, was master of ceremonies, assisted by Jeffery Jordan, OFM. Br. James Hwang, OFM, and Br. Ron Hurl, TOR, served as deacons.

Mass of Ordination
Also participating in the ordination Mass as acolytes were Ross Chamberland, OFM, George Camacho, OFM, Gerald Hopeck, OFM, Michael Reyes, OFM, and Br. Geoffrey Muga, FMH.

In keeping with the diverse personality of St. Camillus, the morning music blended varied ethnic styles. Tracy McDonnell directs the St. Camillus Multicultural Choir.

Cardinal McCarrick, who has officiated at several previous ordinations of HNP friars, spoke of the joy and humility with which Franciscans go about their ministry.

“By your example,” the cardinal said to Stephen and Daniel, “you’ll build up the house of the Lord.”

“God has given you many talents. The greatest gift he has given you is to be able to empty yourself and ask God to fill you to make you a servant,” said the cardinal. “No one does this better than Franciscans. You are called to be messengers of humility and joy. We pay that you may be truly Franciscan priests. Rejoice in what you do in the Franciscan community.”

John thanked the cardinal, mentioning that this year is the 35th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop. “He has been a true brother to us.”

John also thanked “all who made this day possible,” specifically Michael Johnson, OFM, pastor of St. Camillus,  the parishioners, and “especially the parents of Dan and Steve.”

The day brought feelings of gratitude to the new priests. Dan said: “When I think about this weekend and my ordination to the priesthood, the first thing that comes to mind is gratitude — gratitude for the tremendous love and support of my family, friends and fellow friars, as well as the stunning support of the people with and to whom I’ve ministered this year at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Triangle, Va.”

“I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, joy and love that so many shared with me on that great day,” he added. “I’m also grateful to God for the gift of this vocation to the Franciscan life, which is my first call and from which I am able to serve the Church as a priest.”

Stephen celebrated his first Mass on Sunday at St. Camillus Church, and Dan celebrated his first Mass at noon the same day at St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle. This weekend, Steve will celebrate Mass at his parents’ parish, St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Buffalo N.Y., at 11 a.m. on May 27. Dan will celebrate the 11:15 a.m. Mass at his childhood parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Utica, N.Y.

ordination-rFormation and Future
Both friars are natives of Upstate New York and graduates of St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y. Stephen, 30, who grew up in Buffalo, graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in history and theology. Dan, 28, of Utica, graduated the following year with a degree in theology.

For the past few years, they have lived at Holy Name College while studying for their masters of divinity degrees at Washington Theological Union. They both graduated on May 4 at WTU’s final commencement.

Prior to professing their solemn vows in September 2011, the two spent a year of formation interning at Holy Name Province ministries. Stephen was based in South America, strengthening his knowledge of the Spanish language and serving at Santa Ana Parish in Lima, Peru. Dan taught several courses at Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., while writing his recently released book, Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis.

Dan posted photos and an overview of the ordination on his blog, Dating God.

A luncheon, attended by the many guests of the new priests — friends, relatives and friars — was provided in the St. Francis International School building, on the property of St. Camillus, following Mass.

For their first assignments as priests, Stephen will serve as parochial vicar at St. Bonaventure Parish in Paterson, N.J., and Dan will pursue a doctorate in theology at Boston College.

The new priests are “both fine men with great gifts and talents to offer the Church, the Order and the Province,” said Francis Di Spigno, OFM, who added that they were part of his last class as vocation director. “It was great to be at the ordination to witness this step in Dan’s and Steve’s lives.”

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province. Photos accompanying this story are by Octavio Duran, OFM.

Editor’s note: This issue’s cover photo shows (front row) Stephen DeWitt, Daniel Horan, Dominic Monti, (middle row) Thomas Conway, Cardinal McCarrick, (back row) John O’Connor, James Hwang and Ron Hurl.