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June 11, 2017

Ordination 2017: Meet our new priests

‘I hope to offer parishioners nothing less than Jesus himself’

Name: Coady Owens
Home parish: St. Louis de Montfort, Fishers

Coady OwensWhat have been the highlights of your year in the diaconate?

Everything that you get to do as a transitional deacon is great because each experience moves you closer and closer to your vocation! I loved preaching — especially over the summer at Holy Spirit where I got to preach almost every day! Another big highlight was our class trip to the Holy Land. All of the deacons at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary spent three weeks in Israel praying and experiencing firsthand the sites of the Scriptures. I also loved doing baptisms and was particularly grateful for my time planning and teaching RCIA at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Has the experience affirmed your call to the priesthood?

Yes!

Have any of your views on priestly life changed?

My views on the priesthood: The priesthood of Jesus Christ follows the exhortation of St. Paul: “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. ... As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy:2-4). The priest is one who prays; one who serves; one who teaches. He is filled with zeal for Christ and for his flock. He shepherds them, protects them and guides them along the right path. He speaks truth. If the truth is comforting, then he comforts, but if it is abrasive, then he refines. He is a minister of the most high God and should always act to discern the divine will so as to maintain a consciousness of the eternal. Still, also, he is fully man — “a seeing, feeling, contemplating, acting animal” (Newman, Tamworth Reading Room 6). Along with a focus aimed at the divine, he models a characteristic gift of sympathy to his brothers and his sisters who are burdened with great desires, ideals and purpose. Like Moses and Paul, he recognizes his own people and petitions God on their behalf out of the great love that he has for humanity. He works and prays for his salvation, for that of his family and for that of all mankind! From this lifestyle, this love and these prayers stem forth all the virtues, counsels and graces provided by God for his ministry. In short: The priest is a representation of the Incarnation of God in the midst of the world and a fearful and humble servant who acknowledges his own need for salvation and yearns for the return of him whom he represents.

Were you surprised by anything over the past year?

No experience stands out as especially surprising — I guess I’ve been constantly surprised by the generosity of God and of the Church. It’s a generosity that really humbles you and fills you with wonder. “What is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god ...” (Psalm 8).

What do you hope to offer to parishioners as a new priest?

I hope to offer parishioners nothing less than Jesus himself.

Can you share some reflections on your journey?

Grace builds on nature. I spent my first three years in seminary just trying to grow in my humanity — trying to be a better human. I focused mostly on virtue — trying to grow stronger, smarter, kinder, more confident, more understanding, etc. After my fourth year of seminary, I really realized that the Incarnation changes everything. God became a man and the whole world — every instant, every experience — is filled with a meaning that corresponds to our hearts and desires. This is the most important thing I’ve ever learned and continue to learn about. Still — without my human foundation, I wouldn’t have been able to receive the reality of the Incarnation in its fullness. Grace builds on nature.

What do you most look forward to as ordination nears?

I’m really looking forward to celebrating the Mass as a priest and living and ministering at a parish day in and day out.

What did you find most meaningful or helpful or inspirational during your last year in seminary?

The thing that was most helpful and inspirational to me during my last year was the time I spent with my brother deacons. In class, in the Holy Land, at their ordinations/first Masses, I was able to see what God was doing in me by watching him do it in them. Solid fraternity is a non-negotiable for seminary and the priesthood.

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