Fr. Carlson, Fr. Pankiewicz ordained for diocese, assigned

Photo Caption: Father Paul Carlson, left, and Father James Pankiewicz lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor of St. Mary’s Cathedral. (For dozens more photos from the ordination, click on the camera link at left.)

By: By Tom Dermody

With “hearts full of joy,” the Diocese of Peoria welcomed Father Paul R. Carlson and Father James T. Pankiewicz as its newest priests on May 29.

“Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s church,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who presided at the ordination liturgy at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

Father Carlson has been assigned as the new chaplain of Peoria Notre Dame High School and will also serve as parochial vicar at St. Jude’s Parish, Peoria. Father Pankiewicz will become parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s Parish, Pekin.

The ordination Mass was concelebrated by priests from throughout the diocese, who twice during the liturgy individually greeted the ordinands — first laying hands on their heads in prayer as Bishop Jenky did in the ordination rite, and later embracing them during the exchange of peace.

The families of the new priests were seated in the front pews, and their parents — Dennis and Jill Carlson of Rock Island and Thomas and Catherine Pankiewicz of St. Joseph, Mo. — brought up the offertory gifts.

“It was so incredibly beautiful to be able to sit up front and watch Paul’s face as he was going through everything, and knowing his dream was coming true,” said Mrs. Carlson at a reception following the Mass at the Spalding Pastoral Center. The Carlsons, members of St. Pius X Parish, noted the presence of many parishioners as well as “a lot of Paul’s friends from (Alleman) high school.”

For the third consecutive year, an alumnus of Alleman was ordained a priest of the diocese, with Father Carlson joining Father Adam Stimpson (2009) and Father Dustin Schultz (2008).

Lines were long to receive a blessing from the new priests at the reception.

“You’ll always be Jimmy to me,” said Catherine Pankiewicz as she embraced her son after receiving a blessing. Meanwhile, Thomas Pankiewicz told The Catholic Post that during the ordination rite his mind “jumped back to a March evening when, in the kitchen of our home, Jim told us ‘I think I’m going to be a priest.'”

Songs of praise and thanksgiving echoed through the cathedral, led by a combined choir featuring members of the Cathedral Schola as well as choirs from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Nauvoo, and St. Patrick’s Parish, LaSalle. The choir was directed by Dr. Sherry Seckler assisted by Greg Etzel, with Scott Montgomery as organist.

Prelude music included selections by the children’s choir of Immaculate Conception School in Monmouth.

In welcoming the assembly, Bishop Jenky called the ordination of new priests one of the “happiest occasions of the liturgical year.”

In his homily, he challenged Father Carlson and Father Pankiewicz to “keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”

Father Carlson celebrated his first Mass the following morning at St. Pius X Church in Rock Island. Father Pankiewicz’ first Mass was at St. Mark’s Church, Peoria.

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