Two Joe’s ordained priests at St. Joseph Cathedral
It seemed very appropriate that on the 175th anniversary of the diocese’s founding that two men named Joseph were ordained at St. Joseph Cathedral. Joseph Franz and Joseph Tokasz celebrated the rite of commissioning a minister on June 4 in the downtown church.
“As we know St. Joseph, who is our patron of the diocese; I think maybe there is more work here than meets the eye,” said Bishop Michael W. Fisher in welcoming the Franz and Tokasz families to the cathedral.
The Rite of Ordination began after the Gospel reading, when Father David Baker, director of Vocations for the diocese, asks that the two Joes be ordained.
“Relying on the help of the Lord God and our savior Jesus Christ we choose these our brothers for the order of the priesthood,” said Bishop Fisher in agreement, garnering much applause.
In his homily, Bishop Fisher explained that an ordination is an ancient rite and sacrament of the Church. The chosen readings explain the origins of the priesthood as God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, said, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
“We’ve begun this ancient and solemn celebration with these words filled with trust in God,” Bishop Fisher said. “God has given us these two men as shepherds, who today receive priestly ordination for service to this local Church in the Diocese of Buffalo.”
While his words were for everyone to ponder and pray on, the bishop did direct his message to the ordinadi.
“My dear sons, you’ve been called by God. God wanted to make use of the ministry of priest to guide and govern the people. Grant they may untiringly fulfill your will. And in the prayer ordination, we are reminded, reminded that just as God gave the apostles coworkers, now, as a help to our limitations, he’s giving us coworkers for the exercise of the apostolic priesthood.”
The bishop went on to advise the new priests on their role within the Church.
“Love for souls and your people should always be your priority and your motivation. This kind of love, Jesus offers us. He implores to his disciples, ‘Feed my lamb, tend my sheep.’ May our Lord’s people’s command to Peter always be reflected in our hearts and ministry as we celebrate the sacraments. You’ve been chosen by God. And you have put great care into your preparation in discernment through many years of study and prayer, above all through prayer and silent contemplation that you have prepared for this extraordinary moment in your life, the extraordinary moment in the life of this Church. By the grace of ordination to the sacred priesthood, you will be configured to the person of Jesus Christ, a high and eternal priest. Through the instrument of my unworthy hands, you will be consecrated priests of God.”
The bishop reminded everyone present that priests are the visible and tangible expression of Jesus in our world.
“The priest is, above all, a man of the Eucharist. That should be the center and core of who we are as priests,” he said, adding a priest should be a man of deep and intense personal prayer.
“Never forget the responsibility to build up that bond that you share with your brother priests. Look to each side (of the cathedral) and in this sanctuary, each one of these men is ready to be there as a brother to help you, to mentor you, to guide you, to listen to your woes, to rejoice with you, and again, build that bond of fraternity that we are all called to,” the bishop concluded.
Father Franz will return to St. Mary’s Seminary & University this fall for further study. He will serve at OLV National Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna over the summer. Father Tokasz will serve as parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great Parish, which seemed to delight to cheering crowd that came from the Williamsville parish.
After the Mass, the diocese’s newest clergy celebrated with their families and friends who came to witness the special day. When asked how she felt about her son becoming a priest, Marie Tokasz replied, “Very happy and excited … and blessed … humbled.”
She said their only role in their son’s vocation was to bring him to Church when he was young and provide a good family life.
“We always went to Church together as a family. When I was leading the folk group, my husband used to bring all three kids to Church every Sunday himself. He was quite the dad to do that,” Marie Tokasz said.
“Faith was always in our life,” added husband, Bill.
Father Daniel Ulmer, who was ordained just last year, offered some advice for his brother priests
“There are so many graces and blessings that come from priestly ministry and ordination. I would tell the guys to enjoy every minute of it and to take the time to see the Holy Spirit working in their lives. Because each and every moment is blessed. It’s important to take the time to step back and think, God is working through me and this is how the graces are flowing.”