Jubilarian priests celebrated as ‘fishers of men’

Priests celebrating 25th, 40th, 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries are honored at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Sept. 5.

By Mark Weber and Tim Johnson

FORT WAYNE — The Priesthood anniversaries of 12 priests were recognized Sept. 5 at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.

Those jubilees celebrated included the following: 25 years — Father Cyril Fernandes, Holy Cross Father Wilson Miscamble and Father Timothy Wrozek; 40 years — Father Robert D’Souza, Father Daniel Durkin and Holy Cross Father John Pearson; 50 years — Father Danney Pinto, Capuchin Franciscan Father Ronald Rieder, Father Edward Ruetz and Father Kenneth Sarrazine; 60 years — Holy Cross Father Leonard Banas; and 70 years — Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh.

Jubilarian Father Wrozek, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Fort Wayne, told Today’s Catholic, “From family life in Michigan, a career in Scouting, that was a long time ago; but the 25 years of Priesthood seems like yesterday and it gets better and better every day.”

Father Pearson, reflecting on his years of Priesthood, said, “I was particularly excited to celebrate this Mass because somehow it hit me that 40 years is a long time and it’s a time I have really enjoyed being in ministry to people of all types. I’ve been a parish priest. I’ve been a law professor and now I am campus minister to 1,500 women at Saint Mary’s College, so I feel that I have had a very full and wonderful ministry which I hope has a long time to go.”

Father Dan Durkin, pastor of St. Henry Parish, Fort Wayne, said, “It’s been an exciting  40 years. Every assignment has been unique and a real blessing.”

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of Luke’s Gospel of the miraculous catch of fish on the Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Galilee. Bishop Rhoades recalled the words of Blessed John Paul II at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. “Pope John Paul repeated the words of Jesus ‘Duc in altum,’ ‘Put out into the deep!’” Bishop Rhoades noted.

“John Paul called the whole Church to put out into the deep, in other words, to proclaim the Gospel with new energy and enthusiasm,” Bishop Rhoades said. “He called the Church to embark on the New Evangelization. He told us not to settle into laziness or complacency. We must intensify, not relax, our commitment to spreading and living the Gospel. Only if we do so, will we experience the great catch of fish, will we see a new springtime for the Church.”

Bishop Rhoades added, “When we began this Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI said it was meant ‘to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.’”

The pope emeritus, Pope Benedict XVI, wanted the people of the Church to rediscover the truth, the power and the beauty of the Catholic faith. Pope Francis also, like John Paul and Benedict, “wants us ‘to put out into the deep.’”

After the miraculous catch of fish, Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

“You will be fishers of men, he told the Apostles,” Bishop Rhoades said.

“For many years, our priest jubilarians have been fishers of men,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In their Priesthood, they have indeed ‘put out into the deep,’ devoting their lives to the mission of evangelization, to teaching the faith, to communicating God’s grace in the sacraments, and to leading God’s people as shepherds after the heart of Christ. When they were ordained, they, like the apostles, left their boats on the shore to follow Jesus as His priests.”

Bishop Rhoades said of the jubilarians, “We thank them for their devoted priestly ministry, for their zeal for evangelization, for ‘putting out into the deep,’ trusting in the Lord and His grace. The Lord only knows the many thousands of people who have been touched, and continue to be touched, by their pastoral ministry, their charity, and their priestly witness of holiness. Today we thank God for their priestly lives and ministries and we pray for them, that the Lord will continue to bestow His grace and love upon them.”

In the first reading of the day from the Colossians, Bishop Rhoades noted that St. Paul prayed that the Colossians might be filled “with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”

“How often our priests pray for you, our faithful people, our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Bishop Rhoades emphasized. “This is part of the priest’s mission, like St. Paul, not only to teach but also to pray. Priests are to be men of prayer. This is how we enter into the knowledge of Jesus and friendship with Him. This is where our priests receive the grace and strength for their ministry.”

“It is in prayer that all of us learn to think with Christ, to think his thoughts and feel his sentiments,” he said. “And then we are better able to convey Christ to others. Prayer helps all of us to build our lives on Christ and to put his teachings into practice.”

Bishop Rhoades said, “If the new evangelization is going to bear fruit, it must be rooted in Christ, our relationship with Him and our faithful witness to His Gospel.”

Posted on September 18, 2013, to: