Monday, May 30, 2016


May and June have long been seen as particularly auspicious months for ordinations to the priesthood and diaconate, so it shouldn't be surprising that by this time next week I will have attended ordinations on three consecutive Saturdays. In Toronto, Jesuit ordinations usually take place on the second-to-last Saturday in May; some readers may recall that my ordination to the diaconate took place two years ago at this time. This year, the Jesuits in English Canada gathered on Saturday, May 21 to witness the ordination to the priesthood of Paul Robson as well as the ordination to the diaconate of four Jesuits from outside Canada who are studying at Regis College: Eddie Cosgrove of Ireland, Pierre Edward Luc of Haiti, and Matt Dunch and Sylvester Tan of the United States.

It was a particular joy for me to witness the diaconal ordination of Matt Dunch, a friend of many years and one I've been lucky to live with here in Toronto. I first met Matt about eleven years ago, when I was a Jesuit novice and he was a candidate for the Society; we quickly bonded over various common interests and shared quirks, and in later years Matt would sometimes joke that he was on the "Koczera Plan" because of our similar experiences in formation, especially insofar as he followed me in doing unusual things like teaching philosophy to university undergrads during regency, studying German in Austria, and coming to Toronto for theology. Among other adventures, Matt was my traveling companion on the great Southern road trip from New Orleans to Savannah via Alabama that preceded my priestly ordination. In short, seeing Matt as a deacon and anticipating his ordination to the priesthood makes me proud and happy beyond words.

I was also especially happy to witness the ordination of Sylvester Tan, whom I hadn't known before he came to Toronto for theology but who has became a good friend in our time here. Henri de Lubac's dictum about Hans Urs von Balthasar being the most cultivated man of his time could also be justly applied to someone like Sylvester, who has the added virtue of being self-effacing enough to blush at such effusive praise. As a cradle Catholic who has had fruitful relationships with many Anglicans and significant experience of what Pope Benedict XVI described in Anglicanorum coetibus as "the Anglican patrimony" within the Catholic Church, Sylvester has been actively involved with the work of the Anglican Ordinariate in Toronto at St. Thomas More Parish. (I'll add that Sylvester has also gotten me involved in the Ordinariate, at least in a small way: when the local Ordinariate priest was indisposed, I celebrated Sunday Mass for the community using the new Ordinariate missal.) On Trinity Sunday, Sylvester served his first Mass as a deacon and preached at St. Thomas More, and I'm glad to have been able to attend and to sit in choir.

A week after the events described above, we had another Jesuit ordination: this past Saturday, Cyril Pinchak was ordained a deacon in the Byzantine Rite at the Slovak Catholic Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Toronto. During his years in theology, Cyril has adeptly managed to split his time between the Slovak cathedral and St. Elias in Brampton, and I know that his presence has been deeply appreciated in both places. For my part, I've been grateful for Cyril's company on the long drives out to St. Elias; many were the Sunday mornings when we left the house in the winter darkness, still shaking off sleep, and managed to keep one another awake and entertained as we drove out to Brampton for matins. It's been great to share the experience of St. Elias with Cyril, and I know that the community shares my joy in seeing him ordained to the diaconate at last.

As noted at the start of this post, I'll also be attending a third ordination in the near future: next weekend, I'll be in Milwaukee to see my old friend Vince Strand ordained to the priesthood. I hope that you'll join me in praying for Vince and the others who have been ordained recently or will be ordained in the near future. May God give them all the grace and the strength they need to accomplish their ministry in his service. AMDG.