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June 11, 2017

Lafayette diocese welcomes four new priests

Bishop Timothy L. Doherty ordained four men to the priesthood on June 3 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Lafayette. Hundreds of priests, seminarians, religious, family, friends and well-wishers filled the cathedral for the celebration. Above from left are Father Michael J. Bower, Father Coady P. Owens, Bishop Doherty, Father John L. Nguyen and Father Cole G. Daily. (Photo by Bob Nichols)

Bishop Timothy L. Doherty ordained four men to the priesthood on June 3 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Lafayette. Hundreds of priests, seminarians, religious, family, friends and well-wishers filled the cathedral for the celebration. Above from left are Father Michael J. Bower, Father Coady P. Owens, Bishop Doherty, Father John L. Nguyen and Father Cole G. Daily. (Photo by Bob Nichols)

By Caroline B. Mooney

LAFAYETTE — The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception was filled to capacity as approximately 900 priests, seminarians, religious, family, friends and well-wishers witnessed the ordinations of Father Michael J. Bower, Father Cole G. Daily, Father John L. Nguyen and Father Coady P. Owens to the priesthood on June 3.

As the cathedral pews and choir loft seats filled, more than 200 faithful were sent to overflow seating in Bishops Memorial Hall, where a large screen was set up to view the Mass.

“I am really proud of these four men,” said Father David Hasser, diocesan vocations director. “They have been under my guidance for the last six years and I have walked with them all along the way, through thick and thin. They have a really great spirit and are very personable with a down-to-earth outlook on life. They have a great outlook on the future of their coming ministry and interacting with all the people they will serve. They are all a lot of fun, and all unique. I look forward to their ministry with us in the presbyterate and throughout the diocese.”

In his homily, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty talked about the ordinands lying prostrate during the litany of saints.

“If you have never seen the ordination of priests or bishops, this will be one of many gestures that raises a question. But let me reflect on only a couple of aspects of this one, without at all exhausting its potential,” he said.

Dance choreographer Martha Graham staged a New York premier of one of her compositions. Afterward, a wealthy patron asked the meaning of it. Graham replied, “Honey, if I knew how to say it, I wouldn’t have danced it.”

“So I can’t expect to capture this piece of our liturgy that is called the prostration,” Bishop Doherty said. “But I can say two things. At each Good Friday’s solemn liturgy, the priest enters and immediately lies flat on the floor before the altar. And he will remember this day as he honors the cross.

“Second, today we will watch you flat on your faces, and today you will rise under your own power. But there will come days when you will remember an iconic phrase in our culture: ‘Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.’ Physically, eventually. Spiritually at the most inconvenient times.

“I want you to know that with the grace of this sacrament comes the grace to ask for help, and to accept assistance along the way,” he said. “Those of us who crowd the church and who look at streaming video are here to pledge the assistance of our constant prayers. And your brother priests, your families, all of us, will not hesitate to help you get to your feet.

“Of course you are to teach, sanctify and shepherd. Teach the whole of the good news,” Bishop Doherty said. “Sanctify by your careful preparation and celebration of the Eucharist. And with the echoes of the Year of Mercy still in our hearts, be dutiful and patient as you take advantage of, and minister, the wonderful sacrament of penance.

“To shepherd as pastors will be to govern as the Church’s laws and confirmed traditions provide,” he said, “and you will do this in order to lead to God the Father through the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

The men each knelt before the bishop to vow obedience to him and his successors.

Later in the rite, Bishop Doherty placed his hands on each candidate’s head, invoking the Holy Spirit to come down upon him. Brother priests then did the same.

After the prayer of ordination was offered by Bishop Doherty, each of the men received a chasuble symbolizing their new ministries.

The newly ordained priests’ hands were anointed with sacred chrism, and Bishop Doherty presented them with a chalice and paten.

The men received hugs from the presbyterate during the fraternal sign of peace.

“I’m very, very happy,” said Henry Nguyen, father of one of the newly ordained priests. “Priesthood is a really special vocation from God. John told us that whenever he came into a church, he heard God’s voice call him to the priesthood. He followed instruction after that. He is happy to be serving the people. He is a good son and is kind to everybody.”

“It’s really exciting. We’re all really glad he’s been able to get to this moment — he has worked very hard,” said his sister, Dorothy Nguyen. “I think he will bring a great attitude and a lot of kindness to his priesthood.”

“He has provided a great example for me,” said his brother, John Nguyen. “This shows that you never know what life is going to throw at you.”

“I’m looking forward to starting to share all the things I have received on my long journey,” Father Nguyen said. “I feel like God has been filling me up with blessings and graces to share all those things with everyone.”

He said he was calm before the ceremony, but thought nerves would hit during, as they did when he was ordained a deacon.

“It was a wonderful, beautiful Mass,” said Taylor Blalock, who got to know then-Deacon Nguyen at her home parish. “He is full of the Holy Spirit and shows it to everyone. He lights up the room when he comes in. He’s going to be an amazing priest.”

Father Daily said that during the Mass, “the thing that kept coming to mind, especially when the priests were laying their hands on me, was gratitude. How the priesthood is not anything any of us deserves or earns, but it is a free gift from God that he has poured out on us. I have peace that this is right because this is what God has called me to. It is really profound.”

His mother, Lori Daily, said her family was filled with lots of joy and thanksgiving to God.

“Especially experiencing the joy that others have been sharing with us and the effect that the Lord is having on their lives through ordination,” she said.

“I’m so happy for him and so proud of him,” said his sister, Sister Rose Dominic, OP, a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville. “This is such a wonderful gift from the Lord for our family and for the whole Church. He’ll be a very holy priest and really rooted in prayer. He will lead in a humble way.”

Father Ted Dudzinski, vicar general of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, was Father Daily’s pastor while he was discerning his vocation at his home parish of St. Patrick, Kokomo.

“Cole has always been a great leader, and a great spiritual person, as is his whole family,” Father Dudzinski said. “They were one of the first families who all came together to our adoration chapel. They are a beautiful family.”

Ana Uhlrich works at Mount St. Mary University, where she met Father Daily while he was in seminary.

“He was team chaplain for our cheerleaders,” she said. “My daughter is a cheerleader and just loves him. He always took time to talk with the students. He’s going to be an amazing priest. I really wish we could still have him on campus — he better visit!”

Newly ordained Father Bower said it was wonderful to know how full the cathedral was during Mass, “knowing that the people of God are behind us, praying for us, and with us, all our family and friends.

“It’s a wonderful experience to feel all that support in the communion of saints along with them,” he said. “I’m looking forward to no longer being in seminary and being an instrument of the Lord’s Prayer.”

His father, Jeff Bower, said the Mass was “very emotional. It’s the culmination of a long journey and it was very exciting seeing him get ordained. I think it’s exciting that there are four new priest, not just one.”

”It’s just a very special day,” said his mother, Marilyn Bower. “When he decided to become a priest as a high school junior, I was a bit surprised because he was so young. But he was very active in the parish, so it wasn’t that surprising. He’s just a nice young man, a kindred spirit. He will be a wonderful priest.”

Father Bower’s sister, Jessica Flores, thinks he will be “a great priest. I was so proud I cried at Mass. Seeing him move up and sit up with the rest of the priests was the best part.”

Andrew Henderson and his father, Keith Henderson, got to know then-Deacon Bower when he was assigned to their parish while he was in seminary at Saint Meinrad.

“He was Andrew’s confirmation sponsor and he started a Knights of the Holy Temple group at our parish,” Keith Henderson said. “He’s going to make a great priest.”

“He has a great personality and is good to work with. He’s a good leader,” Andrew said.

After ordination, Father Owens said he felt very joyful.

“It was a beautiful Mass. This is a really powerful occasion that is hard to put into words. I am looking forward to celebrating Mass. The sacrifice of the Mass is so special for everyone, but my first Mass is going to be a great occasion.

“When I was in the sanctuary looking at the host before we all consumed it, it really hit me — the power of the sacrifice and that I’m going to participate in it,” he said.

His mother, Jill Owens, who joined the Church last Easter, thought it was a beautiful ordination.

“We are so excited for his future and happy — it’s a joyous day,” she said.

Thomas Owens, the priest’s father, said he was feeling blessed. “I think he’s going to be a great priest. He’s very excited about it.”

“We are elated,” said his grandmother, Pat Owens. “He’s looked forward to this for so many years. It’s really exciting because that’s what he’s always wanted.”

“Our whole family is blessed,” said his grandfather, Tom Owens.

Phillip Breckler, from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, met the new priest while they were both attending Ball State University.

“This is pretty exciting,” he said. “He is one of the most gifted seminarians I have ever met and one of the most passionate about what he does. He connects with people from any walk of life really well and knows how to talk to the human experience better than any I have met. He’s a remarkable seminarian. It’s been great knowing him. “

The newly ordained priests were to celebrate their first Masses of Thanksgiving at their home parishes — Father Daily on June 3 at St. Patrick; Father Owens

on June 4 at St. Louis de Montfort, Fishers; Father Nguyen on June 4 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Carmel; and Father Bower on June 4 at St. Alphonsus Liguori, Zionsville.

Effective June 28, Father Nguyen will be assigned as parochial vicar of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Carmel; Father Owens as parochial vicar of Holy Spirit, Fishers; and Father Bower as parochial vicar of Our Lady of Grace, Noblesville. Effective June 16, Father Daily will be assigned as parochial vicar of St. Lawrence, Lafayette, with ministry to Lafayette Catholic schools.

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