Answering the call

June 12, 2012

HOUSTON — When the four candidates from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston were ordained on June 2 they made a promise to be "on call for Christ" for the rest of their lives. And getting to that point in their faith journey took many years of formation, and for some, even a decade. 

Those ordained were Fathers Orrin Halepeska, Alvaro Interiano, Richard Lucian Millette and Alfonso Dat-Nhan Tran. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo served as the principal celebrant for the Ordination Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. More than 50 priests from all over the Archdiocese were present to concelebrate the Mass and welcome the new brother priests into their fraternity. 

"Brothers, you are about to be ordained. It will be your mission and ministry, through act and in person of Christ as shepherd and head, to allow each day more and more Christians to either rediscover or discover for the first time that the Lord God, the head of the entire cosmos, wants to be their friend," Cardinal DiNardo said during his homily. "And that friendship will allow them to grow in holiness. Well, the only way that's going to happen is if you yourself grow in holiness."

Father Mike Grey, C.S.Sp., Vice Rector and Director of Human Formation at St. Mary Seminary in Houston, said each of the candidates prepared as much as seven to 10 years for the priesthood. "This class exemplifies a trend of what we are experiencing today," he said. "Some respond to their calling from God in high school, like Alfonso, while others do so in, or shortly after, college, such as Alvaro, Orrin and Richard."

Whether they begin seminary in their freshman year in college or after having earned a degree, the ages of 18 to 25 are very significant. Father Grey said the young men are listening and responding to God's call during a time of self-discovery. If they are at college, they may be going to Mass at the Newman Center on their own for the first time and are beginning to realize that it's their time to contribute support the "Center," the Church. It is a time to decide what's going to make them happy, like any relationship, and deciding whether or not their personal call is to follow Jesus Christ in the priesthood. 
"Answering the call is about being part of something bigger than oneself," Father Grey said. "You want to be a part of a community, to serve others, and deepen your relationship with God. It's truly a blessing for the Archdiocese to receive young people, like these four men, who recently received the Sacrament of Holy Orders." 

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo lays his hands on Richard Lucien Millette during the Rite of Ordination.

Father Grey said during the formation years at the seminary, the candidates seriously examine their personal call to Christ and what it means to them. This examination is challenged and confirmed by the seminary faculty in the areas of academics, spiritual growth, personal maturity and skills for healthy and holy pastoral care for God's people. This is typically a long process that leads these young men to be prepared and pastorally ready to successfully serve the diverse population of our Archdiocese. 

Of the four candidates, Father Grey said, Millette was the only one that did not study at St. Mary Seminary. Millette began his philosophy studies for the priesthood at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas and pursued his theological studies in Rome. His priestly formation was guided by the faculty present at the North American College, where American diocesan seminarians live while pursuing graduate degrees at one of the universities in Rome. 

"As for St. Mary Seminary, we are preparing young men for our growing Church population in Houston, in Texas and beyond," Father Grey said. "They are given good intellectual preparation, many opportunities to develop their spiritual lives, and good input to enable them to be humanly honest and transparent in their priestly ministry." 

Father Grey said the formation journey is not just about going to class, but an ongoing journey within themselves and their community. 
"Driving by on Memorial Drive, the view of the seminary looks nice and quiet, but inside, it's a beehive filled with a lot of activity, internally, of course, within each man, and also in their interactions with each other, and as they are involved with their parish or social ministry assignments," Father Grey said. "Answering the call to Christ is on the platter every day. These men come to know and understand if this is where they belong and they are sufficiently prepared by the seminary working on behalf of the Cardinal, to freely and strongly affirm God's Call as their own."