On Saturday, August 25, the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States celebrated with great joy and thanksgiving the Final Professions of five young men: Mr. Brian Kennedy, C.S.C., Mr. Karl Romkema Jr., C.S.C., Mr. Brogan Ryan, C.S.C., Mr. Michael Thomas, C.S.C., and Mr. Bryan Williams, C.S.C. All five are members of the United States Province.
“I’m so delighted to welcome family, and friends, and Holy Cross to this great celebration. It’s such a joy to be together today!” began Fr. William M. Lies, C.S.C., Superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, in his homily. “We come together for something very special, because, guys, you’re going to do what almost no one dare do, you’re going to say ‘yes’ to God forever, and make a profound commitment – through your vows – to help shepherd his people.
“It’s a not small thing you propose to do here today. Quite the opposite, it’s amazing, especially in our day and age, and in our culture. And by doing it, you become a sign of hope for so many who need the sort of hope you will bring,” he continued.
The great celebration actually began the night before at Moreau Seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame where the five men gathered with their brothers and sisters in Holy Cross, as well as friends and family, to pray for God’s graces on the eve of their Final Professions. Fr. Pete Jarret, C.S.C., the Vicar and First Assistant of the Province, presided and preached at the prayer service. Fr. Jarret was Rector of Moreau Seminary for many years of the five men’s initial formation.
The Mass of Final Profession took place the following morning in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Fr. Lies presided at the Mass and received the Final Professions of Religious Vows of the five seminarians. Fr. Lies was just elected provincial in June, and so these were the first Final Professions that he has received as superior of the Province.
In his homily, Fr. Lies invited the men to imitate the virtues of Blessed Basile Moreau, the founder of the Congregation. More specifically, he spoke of Father Moreau’s “trust in Divine Providence, his confidence in the cross as our only hope, and his zeal for the apostolate.”
“What Moreau gives us through these virtues is a way to live the vows you profess today fully and wholesomely,” said Fr. Lies. “Pope Francis has said that religious life ought to promote growth in the Church by way of attraction. The Church must be attractive. We must ‘wake up the world,’ he says, and ‘be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living!’
“So, how do you ‘wake up the world’ as a religious today?” continued Fr. Lies. “How do we as Holy Cross wake up the world? Well, you do it by living faithfully and joyfully the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience that you profess today. And you will do that by trusting in God’s action in your life, by looking to the cross for your hope, and by having a passion for God’s work. You will wake up the world by being the faithful witnesses that the world so desperately needs right now!”
Following the Mass, there was a reception in the beautiful Main Building of the University of Notre Dame, with its iconic Golden Dome, for the large crowd of people who attended the celebration. Later, there was a celebratory meal for the Holy Cross religious and newly finally professed’s family and closer friends.
The festivities were not over yet, however, as on Sunday, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Romkema, Mr. Ryan, and Mr. Williams were then ordained to the Deaconate. The Mass of Ordination was held at the Moreau Seminary Chapel and the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, presided and preached.
Mr. Thomas did not join his classmates in being ordained on Sunday, because he will be ordained on Saturday, September 15 in Santiago, Chile, where he has been assigned to St. George’s College for his deacon year of ministry.
Following their Ordinations, the four newly ordained deacons returned to their deacon year placements to continue serving the People of God. Deacon Kennedy is working at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Arizona. Deacon Ryan is serving at St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas. Deacon Ryan is the Rector of Keough Hall at the University of Notre Dame. Deacon Williams is working in Campus and Residence Hall Ministry at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.