Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Bishop Skylstad ordains four priests for Spokane Diocese
Story by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the July 5, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
Four Diocese of Spokane seminarians were ordained priests by Bishop William Skylstad, at Spokane’s Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, on Friday, June 29.
Father Kenneth St. Hilaire, from Pasco, Wash., was born July 29, 1979. He says that on the human level he attributes his vocation to his parents, who “always made it very clear that the faith (and its practice) was an essential aspect of life. We always went to Mass, and they gave a fine example of prayer for all their children. Second, if it weren’t for a priest’s encouragement to consider the priesthood seriously and pray for guidance and discernment, I probably never would have entered the seminary.”
Among the high points of his seminary years, Father St. Hilaire includes graduate studies in Rome. “Sitting in a classroom with people from 15 or more different countries from five continents is sure to help a person broaden his horizons,” he said.
During his months as a deacon, Father Kenneth St. Hilaire said that he enjoyed working at “Santa Susanna Parish (the American parish in Rome), preparing children for First Reconciliation and First Communion and preaching at Mass about once every three weeks.”
He looks forward to his life as a priest. He expects that “it is going to take awhile just to get the hang of being a priest and doing things that priests do. I don’t think that all the seminary training in the world can substitute for the hands-on experience of being a priest in the parish.
“I would only add that I am very grateful to the people of the diocese for their great generosity in supporting me throughout my time in seminary formation, and that I am excited to serve them faithfully, with God’s help and to the best of my ability, for many, many years to come,” He said.
Father St. Hilaire was happy to welcome many members of his large extended family at the ordination Mass. “My parents and all my siblings and their families were there,” he says, “as well as many aunts, uncles, and cousins.” Following ordination, the new priest is returning to Rome to continue graduate studies in spirituality at the Teresianum Instutute.
Father Luis Alfonso Castillo Rivera was born Oct. 25, 1977, and is from Oaxaca, Mexico.
He attributes his vocation, most immediately, to his family, “especially the influence of my little sister Lilia, and my older brother Hector, because they always encouraged me to do my best and to trust in God.”
Father Rivera also credits “the support and trust of some of the priests I have been mentored by, like Father Darrin Connall, Father José Luis Millan, and Father Miguel Angel Mejia, among others…”
After being ordained a deacon last July, the new priest helped out in parishes in Cornelius, Ore., where he worked with both the Anglo and Hispanic communities. Recently, he moved to St. Patrick Parish, Walla Walla, and says that “I am having a great experience. Father Pat (Kerst, the pastor of both St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi parishes there) is a good mentor and a good priest, and I am learning a lot of things being here with him.”
Father Rivera looks forward to his first assignment as a priest, at St. Patrick Parish, in Pasco, the largest parish in the diocese. “I believe that with the quality of education provided to me at Bishop White Seminary, Gonzaga University, and at Mount Angel (Seminary), and with God’s help, any challenges that may come my way will be an opportunity for growth.”
Father Rivera said, “I am very thankful to Bishop William Skylstad, and the clergy of the Diocese of Spokane, for the opportunity that they are giving me to belong to the diocese…. I cannot find words to explain how thankful I am to God. Every day I pray to him that I can do my best.”
Newly ordained Father James Peak was born Jan. 5, 1973. He is from Kingston, Idaho, and he said that his family “has always been very supportive of my vocation. My parents are wonderful role models of faith in God and selfless service to others. Many good holy priests have shown me incredible examples of priestly service in the parishes that I have been associated with. Friends have also been very supportive of my vocation, especially while I have been in the seminary.”
Among the high points of his seminary years, Father Peak singles out the opportunity he had in Rome to “see the universality of the Catholic Church in three areas: in my classes, in working with the poor, and in the liturgies in the Vatican…. Not only was I able to learn more about the Catholic Church in other cultures; it also gave me the opportunity to tell others about the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Spokane.”
As a new priest, Father Peak says that he looks forward “to being with the people of the diocese during their encounters with God in the Mass, the Sacraments, and in prayer. Since my academic emphasis was in the area of Christian Spirituality, I look forward to helping people grow closer to God through prayer and devotions. But there are many things about spirituality that cannot be learned in the classroom, and I look forward to learning more from the great witness that the people of this diocese regularly give in both the ordinary and extraordinary events of their lives.”
Father Peak’s ordination became an occasion for a family reunion, he said, since “so most of my relatives attended the ordination. The last reunion was in 2001, so it was wonderful to see them, especially those that live in other parts of the country.”
Father Peak will serve in the diocese as a priest for three or four years, then serve the Military Archdiocese for up to five years, at his discretion; he then returns to ministry in Eastern Washington.
Father Lucas Tomson, from Post Falls, Idaho, was born Nov. 6, 1981. He attributes his vocation to his paternal grandmother. “She made sure that I was baptized and was raised in the Catholic faith,” he said. “She taught me about the importance of prayer. My grandmother was a real model to me of what it means to live the Christian life.”
Father Tomson says that he has been “blessed to have a great seminary experience,” and he views it as “a time in which Christ has formed me with his own hands.” He is particularly grateful for the opportunity to study in Rome. “In November of my first year of theology, I had the opportunity to meet Pope John Paul II. During my second year, I witnessed his death as well as the election of Pope Benedict XVI. I was struck by the millions of pilgrims who came to Rome during that time.”
A high point for Father Tomson during his time as a deacon happened while he was on a visit to Egypt. “Five minutes before Mass, the priest asked me to preach the homily in English!” he recalls. “I had nothing prepared! As I approached the ambo to preach, the doors in the back of the church were open. Military officials were guarding the church, and I could see the minarets from the mosque across the street. The homily that day was on God’s love. What an experience!”
Father Tomson says that he looks forward to “celebrating the Holy Eucharist daily, as well as preaching God’s word. I am also looking forward to celebrating with others the sacrament of Penance. Our God is a God of love, and he desires to be with us. I have experienced this reality in a profound way in my life, and I desire to share this truth with others.”
Seminarians Jason Hiner and David Kushner led the procession into the Cathedral at the beginning of the ordination Mass June 29.
Bishop Skylstad extends his hands in prayer at the beginning of Mass.
Knights of Columbus from throughout the diocese provided an honor guard.
Jessica Diana Bojorges Guevara was the lector for the first reading.
The four men to be ordained to the priesthood stand before the community. From right are deacons Kenneth St. Hilaire, Luis Rivera, James Peak, and Luke Tomson. At right is Father Dan Barnett, Master of Ceremonies for the ordination Mass.
The men are prostrate on the floor of the Cathedral as the people pray for them.
Bishop Skylstad anoints Father St. Hilaire’s hands.
Father José Luis Millan (right) vests Father Luis Rivera as a priest.
Father Luke Tomson bestows his first blessing on Bishop Skylstad.
The newly ordained join the bishop and other priests around the altar.