Read: "Proclaim Christ as Lord" | Bishop Boyea's ordination challenge to new priests | June 8, 2024

Here are some great images, below, of Saturday’s ordinations to the sacred priesthood of Father Joshua Fons and Father Riley O’Shea at Saint Mary Cathedral in Lansing as both men received a very direct challenge from Bishop Earl Boyea to “preach Jesus Christ, dead and risen, and proclaim him as Lord”.

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” said Bishop Boyea during his homily, reproduced in full below, June 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“Now, we all know today is not Christmas. Still, it is that Word made flesh, Jesus, the very Son of God, who has been spoken to you from before you were born, that same Word who has commanded you to speak, and that powerful Word who has touched your mouth.”

Father Joshua Fons hails from the parish of Christ the King in Ann Arbor. He was educated at Saint John Vianney Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. Meanwhile, Father Riley O’Shea is a son of Saint Michael parish in Grand Ledge. He was educated at Michigan State University, East Lansing, and Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit.

“This is just the beginning. We are priests forever!” proclaimed the newly ordained Father Fons to the congregation in his vote of thanks.

“Jesus today has invited us to share in a particular way in his priestly identity, his priestly mission, to share his heart, to be shepherds of his people. So, we need your prayers now probably more than ever.”

Among those concelebrating Holy Mass at Saturday's ordination were Father Charles Fox, Vice Rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Father Jim Olofson, Vice Rector of Saint John Vianney Seminary; as well as dozens of priests from across the Diocese of Lansing including, most notably, 93-year-old Bishop Emeritus Carl Mengeling.

Following ordination, Father O’Shea was vested in his priestly chasuble by Father Ken Coughlin, Pastor of Saint Charles & Helena in Clio, and Father John Linden, Pastor of Saint Andrew in Saline. Meanwhile, Father Fons was vested by his brother, Father David Fons, Pastor of Saint Mary, Williamston, and Father Mike Schmitz, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota.

As for assignments, Father O’Shea now becomes a Parochial Vicar at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish and Saint John Church and Student Center, East Lansing, while Father Fons becomes Parochial Vicar at Saint Patrick in Brighton. Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy, pray for them!

* Photographs by Tom Gennara

• Homily by Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Priesthood Ordination Mass, Saint Mary Cathedral, Saturday, June 8, 2024, Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

My dear sisters and brothers,

We are all invited to consider carefully the nature of the order to which these, our brothers, are to be ordained today. God has made, as we know, his entire holy people a royal priesthood. However, Jesus also chose his apostles to be his sacramental presence for building up the Body of Christ in service to all of us. These apostles and those subsequently ordained after them are configured to Jesus the High Priest. As a result, they are able to offer the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf to the Heavenly Father.

And now I turn to you, my sons and brothers, Joshua and Riley. You have chosen three readings for our reflection today which address three aspects of your priestly ministry: the Word in Jeremiah, reconciliation in Paul, and the Eucharist in Luke. In our brief time here, let us look at the power of the Word in our life and ministry.

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Now, we all know today is not Christmas. Still, it is that Word made flesh, Jesus, the very Son of God, who has been spoken to you from before you were born, that same Word who has commanded you to speak, and that powerful Word who has touched your mouth.

What is it you, my sons, are now and henceforth to say? Preach Jesus Christ, dead and risen, and proclaim him as Lord. If faith comes by hearing, as Paul tells us in Romans (10:14, 17), then that task of opening the door to others in order for them to come to faith now falls to you. Let not the opportunity for another human being to receive the gift of faith be lost by your negligence in proclaiming Jesus Christ.

However, it is more than merely proclaiming words about the Word. I know this does not describe you at this point, not in your youthful enthusiasm, but as you look ahead never let your words be hollow. Rather, may your words always be the Word whom you have accepted as your Lord and with whom you have an ever-deeper friendship. You yourselves, growing in that relationship with Jesus from today forward, will be signs of the power and blessing of Christ’s Lordship in your own hearts and thus an appeal to the hearts of all men and women. Then your words announcing the Word will be rich, deep, and fruitful.

And what is our motive? It is not that of those who built the Tower of Babel so long ago wanting to make a name for themselves. Rather, it is Christ within us who impels us to speak himself to the world. As Paul has said, Christ sent me “to preach the Gospel” (I Cor 1:17). Later Paul adds these words, “If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it” (9:16). We priests know, even when we forget it, that this is never about us. We are, after all, only earthen vessels (II Cor 4:7). Rather, it is always about Jesus Christ. So, before a word, the Word, is ever uttered by our mouths, we should always first speak thanks to God and praise to Him for his gift in our lives, the gift of his Only Son.

Now, my sons and brothers, let us expand our horizons regarding this Word of God. We will end up speaking far more words in contexts other than that of the Worship of God. What about those words? Jesus has warned us, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Our words can build up and tear down, unite and divide. Jeremiah was told to do both, but it was always very clear to him that these were indeed the words God wanted him to speak. As God told Jeremiah in our reading today: “To whomever I send you, you shall go. Whatever I command you, you shall speak.”

Let us not be careless then about what we say. St. James (3:1-12) warns us of the great power of the tongue, able to set a huge forest ablaze. We know that we cannot pull back a harsh word that has been uttered, so we should never be idle about our speech. We, my sons and brothers, are always at the beck and call of the one who has touched our mouths. Let us always think and pray first and may our intentions be formed by the prayer of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (I Sam 3:19).

Today, my sons, you will be conformed by God’s grace, to his beloved Son. May God be as pleased with you as he always is with Jesus. Yes, pour yourselves out and hold nothing back. But always live out what was told you are your Diaconate Ordination: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” May I this day, as a sinner myself, imitate our Lord and also model this service to you as I wash your feet.

God bless you all.