First assignments listed for six newly ordained priests

Photo Caption: Father Joseph Baker, Father Eric Bolek, Father Adam Cesarek, Father Matthew Deptula, Father Alexander Millar, and Father Jacob Valle pose with Bishop Jenky following the May 23 Mass of Ordination.

With instruction to “carry out the ministry of Christ the priest with constant joy and genuine love,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, ordained six men to the priesthood before an overflow assembly at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on May 23.

“Always keep before your eyes the example of Christ the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and save all who were lost,” Bishop Jenky in his homily prior to the Rite of Ordination.

The newly ordained, along with their first parish assignments, are:

— Father Joseph A. Baker, parochial vicar at St. Mary, Champaign, and St. Patrick, Urbana

— Father Eric J. Bolek, parochial vicar at St. Jude, Peoria

— Father Adam J. Cesarek, parochial vicar at St. Mary, Pontiac; St. Paul, Odell; St. Joseph, Flanagan; and St. John, Cullom

— Father Matthew D. Deptula, parochial vicar at St. Matthew, Champaign, and St. Boniface, Seymour

— Father Alexander W. Millar, parochial vicar at St. Mary Cathedral, Sacred Heart, and St. Bernard parishes, all in Peoria

— Father Jacob C. Valle, parochial vicar at St. Philomena, Peoria

On a sunny, picture-perfect spring morning, the priesthood candidates entered the cathedral among a lengthy procession of ministers that included more than 125 priests, dozens of permanent deacons, seminarians, servers, papal knights, and two dozen Fourth Degree Honor Guard members of the Knights of Columbus in full regalia.

As the liturgy began, a combined choir — accompanied by organ, brass and timpani under the direction of Greg Etzel, diocesan director of sacred music — led the assembly in a robust singing of “O God, Beyond All Praising.” The candidates took places just ahead of the front pews where their parents were seated.

“There is so much happiness in our cathedral this morning,” said Bishop Jenky in opening remarks. He noted the universal church would celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost that weekend, and that “our diocese celebrates in a special way because we will have six new priests ordained this morning.”

Following the Gospel reading, the priest candidates were called and presented by Msgr. Brian Brownsey, diocesan director of priestly vocations, who testified “they have been found worthy” of ordination. When Bishop Jenky officially accepted the six for the Order of the Priesthood, the assembly — which included an overflow of about 50 people watching a video feed two blocks away at the Spalding Pastoral Center — showed its approval with prolonged applause.

In his homily, Bishop Jenky explained the nature of priesthood and on several occasions addressed the candidates as “my dear sons.”

“Remember that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for all those things that pertain to God,” he told the candidates. He urged them to imitate the generosity, zeal, and holiness of such historic figures as pioneer priest Father Jacques Marquette and sainthood candidate Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, as well as “the good example of the many hero priests who came before you and labored so hard to build up the holy church of Peoria.”

In the Rite of Ordination, the candidates made a series of promises, including — as they knelt before the bishop and joined hands with him — a pledge of obedience to him and his successors. They then lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor while the assembly chanted the Litany of the Saints.

The rites continued with Bishop Jenky laying hands on the head of each candidate. All priests present then filed through the sanctuary and did likewise for the newly ordained, who were then helped with liturgical vestments by those they had chosen to assist them. Their hands were anointed with Sacred Chrism, and they joined Bishop Jenky to concelebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

At the close of the Mass, the newly ordained offered their first blessings to Bishop Jenky and then the assembly. A reception followed at the Spalding Pastoral Center, where the newly ordained went immediately to six stations set up to bestow first blessings on family members, friends, and faithful.

The six new priests offered their first Masses later that weekend at various parishes around the diocese.

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