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DENVER, CO - MAY 11: Ordination of Priests at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on May 11, 2024, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

Deo gratias! Thanks be to God! The Archdiocese of Denver is celebrating the ordination of six new priests after Saturday’s Ordination Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday.

After years of formation, Father Quoc Bui, Father David Hall, Father Owen Limarta, Father Jacob Machado, Father Ryan Mack, and Father Zachary Michalczyk join the ranks of the presbyterate and prepare for priestly ministry.

“Today, the Church in Denver rejoices that six of her sons are to be ordained as priests of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said in his homily. “It is the Lord who chooses you. As we heard in the Gospel: ‘It is not you who chose me, but I who chose you.’”

The Lord’s call to priesthood is preceded by a much more foundational call to holiness and a deep relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Archbishop Aquila reminded the ordinandi.

“It is essential for you, my beloved sons, to be deeply rooted in the heart of the Trinity, to trust in the Spirit to guide you with his gifts, to trust in Jesus that as you offer his one sacrifice on the Cross and the sacrifice of the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, that you, too, will lead them into the truth of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Aquila continued.

By abiding in relationship with the Trinity, the six new priests will bring others into friendship with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Aquila reminded those gathered that an open heart, listening to God’s word and following Jesus’ commands are fundamental to that relationship.

“He calls us to love one another as I love you. It is in the total gift of self that we are called, and that comes about through friendship with Jesus,” Archbishop Aquila said. “My dearest sons, you are called to be friends with Jesus. ‘You are my friends if you do what I command you.’ He is not calling you to be slaves to his commandments but to be those who receive it in love in your hearts. ‘I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.’ My dearest sons, as you are ordained, let those words penetrate your hearts.”

Indeed, it is that very call that Father Ryan Mack is most looking forward to living out in his new priesthood.

“Priesthood is lived out in a particular kind of friendship with Jesus Christ,” he told the Denver Catholic before his ordination. “I’m looking forward to entering into that call and mission with him. I’m excited to get to the parish and am looking forward to getting to know the community there and being able to celebrate the Mass for them.”

In fact, Archbishop Aquila reminded the ordinandi, the celebration of the Eucharist is precisely where their call, their mission, comes to fruition. By celebrating the sacrament of Jesus’ self-gift, the newly ordained offer all they are to the Trinity alongside Jesus for the good of God’s people.

“You are called to make the words of the Eucharist your own words: ‘This is my body given for you. This is my blood poured out for you.’”

More than a clerical-only dynamic, Archbishop Aquila reminded those gathered that this call to self-gift in loving friendship with Jesus is for all.

“My brothers and sisters, each one of you, at every Mass you participate in, is called to offer yourselves to the Father, to make your lives a total self-gift to the Father,” he said. “Do you consciously and actively give the Father everything in your life, your heart, your mind, your will, your soul, your body, all of your work? Do you offer everything to the Father in the one sacrifice of Christ?”

As priests, the six newly ordained will work alongside Jesus to go after the lost, bringing them into relationship with the Father so that they also might be able to give of themselves.

When asked how his new ministry might do just that, Father Jacob Machado spoke a word of encouragement to those far from the Church.

“Hold on and trust the Father. God cares for you and works all things for the good of those who love him,” he said. “Don’t become discouraged by your failures. As St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, ‘Children often fall, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much.’ Run to the Father and delight in him because he delights in you.”

That very delight, the abundant, complete joy to which Jesus calls his people in the Gospel, is precisely what the newly ordained are called to experience, Archbishop Aquila said in conclusion, reflecting on his own nearly 48 years of priesthood with all their struggles, temptations, trials, joys, blessings and graces.

“In it all is the deep joy that Christ alone can give. It is my prayer that you will taste that joy, that you will receive that joy, that you will be convinced of that joy.” Archbishop Aquila said to the ordinandi at the conclusion of his homily, reminding them to always listen to the voice of Jesus.

“It is my prayer that that joy will only continue to grow in your hearts. The joy that you have in your hearts today as you are ordained a priest is only a taste – a tiny, tiny taste – of what it will be in the years ahead. If you can form your hearts and minds to that of Jesus, and if you live in the life of the Spirit. May the words of Jesus be fulfilled in you today: I have called you friends, appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain. Love one another so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal supports the formation of over 100 seminarians to become holy priests.
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This story was updated on May 13, 2024. Originally published in the Denver Catholic.