After the Ordination - Dinners, Volleyball, Candidacy, 1st Masses, Goodbye's - Entrusting Myself to God

Myself, After receiving a 1st blessing from Fr. Arisman
After the ordination on Saturday morning, I helped to “unset” the altar (put away chairs, take the sacred vessels back to the sacristy, etc.) and then divested from my cassock/surplice/collar (thank goodness – I could finally breathe!).  I got back into by suit/tie and went out into the nave of the cathedral and jumped in line to receive a first blessing from Fr. Seth Brown.  As it turned out, mom and dad were just a few people in front of me, so they joined me in the back of the line and I got to fill them in on what I had been up to over the past few days (Alex didn’t make it because he had the flu or something).  We talked a bit with the people around us (I introduced them to some of the other guys who had joined the line behind us) and then got a beautiful blessing from Fr. Seth.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember the words that he used because they were incredibly beautiful – in a simple, excited, loving, concerned way.  We then walked over to the other side of the cathedral and joined Fr. Steve Arisman’s line (which was considerably longer).  It also went pretty quickly, and again his blessing was incredibly touching.  For mom and dad he asked God to continue to bless them, showing in their love the love of the Trinity, and strengthening and enlivening their marriage.  For me he asked God to strengthen my vocation and form me into a good and holy priest.  Obviously, I am missing huge portions of these blessings – but overall there was a certain tenderness and profundity to them that your typical-old-blessing just usually doesn’t have – it was really cool!  After the blessings, we went down into the basement under the cathedral school and had a tasty little luncheon of sandwiches, pasta salad, and cake.  Mom and dad took off after several minutes and I joined the group of Bruté guys, who were hanging out with one of the priests of the diocese.  After another several minutes, with the party starting to disperse, our conversation also ended, and I caught a ride with Dcn. Stone back to the Villa Maria.  [picture of myself with newly ordained Fr. Steve Arisman]

Once back at the villa, pretty much everybody took a quick nap (myself included), and then around 5 PM most of the remaining guys (some had gone home) headed out to celebrate with the individual newly-ordained-priests.  I went to Fr. Seth’s reception/dinner which was at his parish about 45 minutes from the villa.  I rode with Jason again – why take two cars when you’re going the same place? – and we got there just in time for the small celebration.  Matching his personality perfectly, Fr. Seth’s “party” was extremely modest – with just a smattering of seminarians (some Springfield guys as well as friends of Seth’s from other dioceses) and his family and close friends.  Dinner was delicious: pork loin, rolls, salad, baked potatoes, green beans, and cake – and I spent the meal talking with a few of the other Bruté guys as well as some seminarians from Mundelein (from other dioceses).  It was a fun, quite, simple evening!  After the meal I said my congratulations to Fr. Brown again and he courteously asked about my plans for the summer – it was so like him: just quietly listening to my plans for the summer and wishing me luck.  He will make a phenomenal priest! 

Around 7:30 we took leave of Seth’s party, this time with a full car-load (some of the other guys piled into Dcn. Stone’s car to catch a ride over to Fr. Arisman’s party).  As we drove up to the K of C hall about 20 minutes later, I was bemused to hear music blasting.  I chuckled to think of how different Fr. Steve was from Fr. Seth.  As it turned out, the music was out behind the hall (which shared a building with a restaurant), so it wasn’t exactly for the celebration of an ordination, but it was still funny to compare the different between the two parties.  Though I wasn’t hungry at all, I got a small slice of pizza and some beer.  The pizza was great, the beer was, well beer, (it was my second beer since turning 21 and I am not at all used to the taste, so I can’t really stand the flavor yet).  Fr. Steve was wandering around greeting and talking to people and when he got to the Bruté table he quickly roped us into a game of volleyball with some kids who were present.  I wasn’t really feeling a game of volleyball – I had just ate, I was wearing dress pants, shirt, and tie, and I’m not any good at volleyball – but he convinced me (I am trying to push myself outside of my comfort zone and I knew that I’d enjoy it either way), so out we went.  It was a fun little game.  We played like the family plays tennis: if the ball is still moving it’s still in play J, so that made my mistakes less obvious and the game more fun.  However, after about 20 minutes of that we went back inside only to find that the Mundelein guys (from other dioceses) were interested in playing a game.  I was much more reticent to play this game – surely they would be more competitive – but again, I let myself get talked into it…  Again, though, it was a fun game!  I found that I wasn’t as bad as I thought (especially once I got the hang of hitting the ball with my palm, not punching it, and risked my clothing with a few dives to save the ball).  We played three games, had a blast, got all sweaty, and Bruté ended up winning!  We headed back inside, drove back to the villa, and went to bed – it was a long, exciting, blessed, sacred, fun, and awesome day!

The Cathedral before my admission to candidacy
The next morning, unlike everybody else, I woke up early (7 ish), took a shower, got dressed in suit/tie, said matins and lauds, had another tasty breakfast (fruit, cereal, cinnamon rolls, hash-browns, etc.), and then drove myself over to the cathedral for 10 AM Mass.  Most of the other guys weren’t going because they didn’t have to be there (only at the first Masses later that day), but I had to be there because that was the day chosen for me to receive/enter (don’t know the right terminology…) candidacy.  Usually this is a step that guys take once they get into upper seminary, but the NAC requires guys to have it before they arrive, so I was blessed to do it in the Cathedral in front of the bishop!  Candidacy is a further commitment, on the part of the seminarian, to continue his formation towards becoming a priest, and the further acceptance, on the part of the bishop and diocese, to accept and endorse the seminarian.  I had written a letter to the bishop a month before (or so) basically requesting that I be admitted and confirming my intention to continue on towards the priesthood.  It actually is a pretty big deal – about the closest that I’ll come to “signing on the dotted line” before getting ordained a deacon (I think).  Mass was completely typical, if you consider a Sunday Mass celebrated by the bishop at the cathedral typical, except for the simple ceremony after the homily in which I verbally made this commitment.  Dcn. Larry (who was “deaconing” the Mass), said something to the effect of “for the admission to candidacy, may Dominic Joseph Rankin come forward”, with a booming voice and I had to stand up, say “present”, and walk up into the sanctuary (from the first pew where I was attending Mass with mom and dad, who had come for the occasion).  Then the bishop said two questions to me:  “In response to the Lord’s call are you resolved to com­plete your preparation so that in due time you will be ready to be ordained for the ministry of the Church?” and “Are you resolved to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his body, the Church?” to which I responded “I am”.  It was a simple little moment, but I was actually listening to those questions (duh!) and it kind of hit me in that split second that I was committing myself to something huge.  Seminary, most of the time, is just one day on top of another – classes, serving, praying, eating, having fun, discerning, etc. – and it is all-too-rarely that I think of the immense calling that I am discerning and preparing.  I was so glad to “do” candidacy at the cathedral, but even more than that, I was glad to do it over this weekend where I had just seen Steve and Seth get ordained.  It filled me this excitement – I could be in their shoes in 4 short years! – but it also fills me with apprehension – will I be ready? Will I be capable?  It was the same questions that had shot through my mind the day before, but this time they were even more clear and obvious.  Gosh, the priesthood is an incredible calling, but it is also a supernatural one, I need to rely on God so much more, to love Him so much more, to follow Him so much more closely, and to be so much more dedicated to Him (and less attached to everything else…)  I love to listen to or read great homilies, and I usually am sort of thinking about how I can make my writing/speaking that cool, awesome, compelling, and enthusiastic, but the fact is that that kind of awesomeness and enthusiasm only comes from God.  It’s not that I can’t think of myself as humanly capable – those difficulties (speaking, writing, knowing, serving) can be learned, but if I’m to be a great priest the only way is going to be relying on, and totally loving, God.  Yeah, so I’ve got a lot of work to do, but more importantly, I have to let God do the working...  We also carried up the gifts (haven’t done that in a while), and otherwise Mass continued as usual – but I had a lot of thinking to do.

After Mass, to my surprise, Fr. Alford (now the vocation director if you didn’t already know) and Bishop Paprocki agreed to go out to breakfast with us.  Beforehand, I just invited some of the other “sems” to go out to breakfast, but Dcn. Stone was the only one there (and he had already had a big breakfast), so I just threw it out for the bishop and Fr. Alford, and – surprise! – they agreed.  We went to a nice restaurant inside of a hotel, which was totally empty (fine with me) and had some pretty tasty food.  It was cool to spend an hour or so talking with the bishop – about Rome, about running, other such things…  It was cool!

St. Agnes before Mass
After that mom and dad took off and I drove over to St. Agnes (Fr. Steve’s parish).  Fr. Arisman was going to have his first Mass there at 3 PM, and it was only 1 or so, but the extra time allowed me to scope things out and think about what serving would entail (a month or two ago he asked me to MC for his first Mass).  I was thrilled to be serving, especially as [assistant] MC, but I wasn’t terribly knowledgeable with the ins and outs of a first Mass, especially with the numbers of concelebrants and servers that would be showing up.  Thankfully, another seminarian from Denver (I think?), by the name of Luke had been chosen as head MC, so that took a lot of the pressure off of yours truly!  After saying mid-day prayer, and spending a few moments thanking Our Lord for the wonderful weekend that He had given me, I saw that Luke had arrived and so I went and began to work with him on planning everything out.  As I said, I was extremely thankful that he was there – not only was he more knowledgeable, but he was also much more prepared (he had handouts explaining all the positions, where people would be, which priests would do which part of the Eucharist Prayer, etc.).  We spent probably 30 minutes hashing things out between us and then I was tasked with trying to communicate what I knew with the servers who had arrived.  I kept running up against things that I didn’t know the answer to (when did we need the boat bearer, whether all the servers would fit on the altar, intricacies of the procession, etc.), but I just kept asking around or coming up with answers on the spot, and we got through most of the Mass for most of the guys.  I kind of ran out of time, so in the end I was just hoping that they knew what they were doing (maybe not the best assumption, but it worked out). 

During Mass
Mass was beautiful!  It began with an impressive procession - probably a dozen seminarians and at least 20 priests and deacons, with the (large) choir beginning the Mass with Ave Verum Corpus, Anima Christi, and then Go Up to the Altar of God - all phenomenal hymns.  Basically, everything was done in as awesome a manner as was possible (I was thrilled).  Also, I didn't have too much to worry about at this time (after showing the priests/deacons their places), so I could - for the most part - just sit there and enjoy it.  I did have to worry a bit about the Gospel procession - which could have gone smoother - but Dcn. Stone got to his place eventually, and things worked out in the end.   Fr. House's homily (often at their first Mass a newly ordained priest chooses another priest to give the homily) - about obedience, and how it is a crucial part if every Christian's life (and isn't just submission, but is also our emulation of Christ, and His love - sorry, I was distracted at the time and it has been two weeks since then, so I don't remember the rest of the excellent homily).  For the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I had a few more things to worry about - making sure everything was carried over to the altar, the thurifur was at hand, and guys knew when to make their moves, etc.  They all pretty much knew what was going on (and Luke was keeping a better eye on things than I was), so everything was completed well enough (there was a little bit of a struggle during the Eucharistic Prayer, when I was unable to direct the priests correctly and the candles/thirifur left their places too early, but neither were disasters by any means, and most everything else went along as planned).  Before Mass ended, Fr. Arisman spent a long time thanking all the many people that had helped him throughout his life, and also - in a beautiful ceremony - he gave his maniturgium (the cloth that wrapped his hands after being ordained/anointed) to his mother, his first stole to his father, and also placed a banquet of roses at the altar of Our Lady - consecrating his priesthood to her.  They were all beautiful, profound, moments, and well worth the additional length that they added to the Mass.  Fr. Arisman gave the final blessing and everyone processed out to the triumphant O God, Beyond all Praising.  It was a beautiful - if long and complicated - Mass, and I was humbled and honored to have MC'ed for Fr. Steve.  I was again inspired with enthusiasm for the end-goal which I am aiming towards (priesthood).  Yeah, it was just really, really cool!

After Mass I stuck around for the dinner served to everyone afterwards.  I sat with a bunch of other guys from Brute, and we sat and chatted waiting for the meal to begin (as well as during the meal).  I was glad to be able to catch up with them for a little while, because - for most of us - after that afternoon we would each be heading off to summer jobs/assignments (Totus Tuus, Peru, me: Rome).  Obviously, those are all good things, but - for me at least - it was a hard moment because I don't know when I'll get to see those guys again.  Anyway, it was a fun evening, I said my goodbyes to everybody, and then headed for home.  

I guess it's hard to put into words the awesomeness of the entire weekend.  I obviously had a blast hanging out with all my diocesan brothers, as well as the other seminarians visiting from other dioceses.  I also sincerely enjoyed all the beautiful (and spectacular) Masses that I had the chance to serve at (in positions that put me right in the middle of the "action").  But most of all, I guess, I was truly reinvigorated in discerning my vocation, in putting myself out there for God, in sticking through the (sometimes) hard times.  Gosh, being there when those guys - my friends - were ordained, when they gave their first blessings, when they said their first Mass; it was extraordinary, their joy, their excitement, their enthusiasm - the graces of Holy Orders were evident!  I was not only inspired by them, their commitment, their happiness, but even more by the love and inspiration that was flowing through them.  More and more, in seminary, I have come to realize that it is only through God's help that being a priest is even possible, but over that weekend I saw - I was reminded - that God will provide that grace.  The transformation that I saw in Fr. Seth and Steve is evidence of Our Lord's incredible love for them, and the incredible life that He has called them to.  Yes, for me, things are a bit scary - I don't know how easy it will be to move over to Rome, I don't know if I'll be ready for ordination in (God willing) 4 short years, I don't know if I have what it takes to give myself totally to God, to be obedient (life Fr. House was talking), to make myself prepared to become a priest (as the Bishop asked me), and on and on...  But, that weekend not only made me more enthusiastic and excited about continuing on the path that I am on, it also reminded me of the immensity of God's grace, of the incredible things that happen when you put your life in His hands.  

Yep, life is good!


  1. That's all great! I'm excited for the new priests and it's great to hear you so excited about your vocation. It's really encouraging! Praying for you all. A.M.

    1. Yeah, it was incredibly encouraging! Thanks for the prayers!