Dioceses supported by Catholic Extension hope to keep ordinations on track as ordinations have had to be scaled down.
May and June are traditionally a time for the ordination of priests in the Catholic Church. This year, many such plans have been up in the air.
While some dioceses are beginning to allow the public celebration of Mass, as the local situation with the coronavirus pandemic allows, many others are waiting. And throughout the country, plans for priestly ordinations, if they can stick to their original dates, have to be greatly scaled down, with congregations limited to close family members.
Keeping an eye on the situation is Catholic Extension Society, a papal society that helps grow the Catholic Church in poor mission dioceses. The society has funded the education of seminarians for more than a century — 500 seminarians in the past five years alone.
This spring, more than 100 ordinations were scheduled for seminarians in diocese the society supports.
The Diocese of Yakima will not postpone the two ordinations they had scheduled for this month, however. Those ordinations include Deacon Edgar Quiorga, a fourth-year seminarian, to the priesthood, and Michael Kelly to the transitional diaconate.
“Ordinations will comply with the regulations that are in place,” requiring social distancing and gatherings of fewer than 10 people, said vocations director Fr. Felipe Pulido. “Both ordinations will include the immediate family of the seminarian playing a role in Mass and both will be live-streamed.”
The Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan is hoping to keep the two ordinations slated for June 20, one to the priesthood and one to the transitional diaconate, on time, said Fr. Ben Rexroat, vocation director. Gaylord Bishop Steven J. Raica has been named to head the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, and is to be installed there June 23.
Seminarians for the diocese have been living in pairs in various rectories to avoid living in a seminary, but still to maintain some semblance of fraternity as they take online courses.
In the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, Deacon James Wallace is the sole candidate for priestly ordination this year. He is finishing up his studies online, at home with his family in Los Angeles.
“At this point everything is on hold for him and his presbyterial ordination,” said Fr. Michael Galbrath, Juneau’s diocesan vocation director. “We will have to see how the state of Alaska does in opening things up before we can make a final decision on the date of his ordination. We originally had it planned for June 19, but we will leave that up to the bishop to decide if we postpone or go ahead with this date.”