Diocese of Peoria ‘blessed with joy’ as Father Lee Brokaw is ordained, assigned

Newly ordained Father Lee Brokaw poses with Bishop Jenky for the traditional photo on the steps of the Bishop's Home after the Mass of Ordination. Also pictured are, from left, Father Timothy Hepner, vocations director for recruitment; Msgr. James Kruse, vicar general; Abbot Philip Davey, OSB, of St. Bede Abbey; Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general; and Father Patrick Henehan, vocation director of formation. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Proclaiming the Diocese of Peoria “blessed with joy,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, ordained Father Lee W. Brokaw to the priesthood in ancient rites witnessed by a standing-room-only crowd during a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Saturday, May 27.

In an instruction during the Rite of Ordination, Bishop Jenky urged Father Brokaw to “carry out the ministry of Christ the priest with constant joy, genuine love, attending not to your own needs, but to those of the Lord and those you serve.”

Bishop Jenky lays hands on the head of Father Lee Brokaw during the Rite of Ordination. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Moments before the priesthood candidate entered the cathedral in an opening procession featuring nearly 100 priests from across the diocese and about 25 permanent deacons, Msgr. Stanley Deptula took to the microphone to address the dozens of faithful unable to find a seat even in the cathedral’s chapels or balconies.

“We expected most of Raritan and Monmouth to show up today,” said Msgr. Deptula, “but we didn’t expect all of Warren and Henderson counties to come!” Father Brokaw is a native of St. Patrick Parish in Raritan, which is linked with Immaculate Conception Parish in Monmouth. The two faith communities sent multiple busloads to Peoria for the ordination.

(Related stories: Father Brokaw’s family describes him as a caring leader who loves people and the Lord and Father Brokaw tells the story of his chalice.)

Following the opening procession, Deacon Brokaw stood ahead of a front pew occupied by members of his family including his parents, Patrick and Brenda Brokaw, who later would bring forward the offertory gifts. As the ordination rite began, he was presented to Bishop Jenky by Father Patrick Henehan, director of vocations for formation. Bishop Jenky’s formal acceptance of the priesthood candidate was followed by nearly a minute of enthusiastic applause.

In his instruction, Bishop Jenky urged Father Brokaw to imitate the best traits of faithful priests including “the missionary zeal of Pere Marquette, the heroic witness of Gabriel de la Ribourde, protomartyr of Illinois, the generosity of Jean Marie Vianney, the patron saint of all parish priests, the determined energy of John Lancaster Spalding, our founding bishop, the manifest holiness of Venerable Fulton Sheen, and the good example of many priest-heroes who came before you and labored so hard to build up the holy church of Peoria.”

“Keep always 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 are lost,” said Bishop Jenky.

After making a series of promises, Deacon Brokaw then laid face down on the sanctuary floor for several minutes as the assembly sang the Litany of the Saints. The ordination rite then continued with Bishop Jenky and all priests present laying hands on his head.

Msgr. Greg Ketcham embraces Father Brokaw after he and Msgr. Thomas Mack (right) assisted the newly ordained priest with putting on his vestments during the Rite of Ordination. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Father Brokaw was vested for the first time by Msgr. Greg Ketcham and Msgr. Thomas Mack, then knelt before Bishop Jenky who anointed his palms with Sacred Chrism. Father Brokaw then concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Jenky and the diocese’s priests.

Joining the cathedral’s festival choir in the upper balcony were student singers from Immaculate Conception School in Monmouth, who sang a prelude as well as the Communion meditation, “I Give You a New Commandment.” While the music — including organ, timpani and brass instruments under the direction of Greg Etzel — often rattled the cathedral’s windows with majestic praise, the memorable selections also included “Holy is Your Name,” which was sung without accompaniment.

The Mass was followed by a reception at the Spalding Pastoral Center, where the line was long to receive first blessings and a holy card from Father Brokaw. The diocese’s newest priest offered his first Mass the following day at Immaculate Conception Church in Monmouth, followed by a Mass on Memorial Day at his home church, St. Patrick in Raritan.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the ordination Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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