The Diocese of Knoxville welcomed four new priests May 31 as Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated an ordination Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where Fathers Colin Blatchford, Anthony Budnick, Julian Cardona and Adam Kane took their vows for the priesthood.
The newly ordained priests processed into the cathedral with Bishop Stika and some 60 fellow priests and deacons, where a standing-room-only congregation witnessed the two-hour special Mass.
The ordination was a first for the Diocese of Knoxville, which has not seen four men join the priesthood at one time. Their addition increases to more than 80 the number of priests in the diocese who are serving at 47 parishes, four missions, 10 schools and three university campuses throughout East Tennessee.
In its 25-year history, the Diocese of Knoxville now has had 46 priests ordained.
During the Mass celebration, the new priests were called forward in the election of candidates, where they stood before Bishop Stika and were recommended for ordination by Father Michael Cummins, director of vocations for the diocese.
Fathers Kane, Cardona, Budnick and Blatchford then were questioned by Bishop Stika during the promise of the elect on their willingness to undertake the office of priest and its responsibilities. Then they approached Bishop Stika, who asked them, “Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?”
They answered, “I do,” to which Bishop Stika responded, “May God, who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment.”
They then rose, and one by one approached the bishop and knelt before him. Bishop Stika then laid his hands on each of their heads. The priests in attendance followed the bishop, who prayed the Prayer of Ordination.
After the investiture with stole and chasuble where the new priests were helped with their vestments by fellow priests Father P.J. McGinnity, Father Chris Michelson, Father Moises Moreno-Uzua, and Father Dustin Collins, Bishop Stika then anointed with holy Chrism the palms of each new priest as he knelt before them.
“The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, guard and preserve you that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God,” Bishop Stika said.
During his homily, Bishop Stika said that before the Mass as he reflected on the significance of the ordination, he thought of the Apostles and how their lives were interrupted by the Lord Jesus, who said, “Come follow me.”
“You have now offered yourself to the Church.” Bishop Stika said. “At one point or another, God interrupted your lives and said, ‘Colin, Tony, Adam and Julian, come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’”
Bishop Stika also advised the Diocese of Knoxville’s newest priests to stay grounded and accessible to the people they serve.
“You are a living witness of Jesus Christ, who said, ‘Do you love me? Feed my sheep.’ The Lord Jesus invites you to love him and love his people. They see in you a sacrament in a very particular way,” Bishop Stika told the four priets.
Bishop Stika asked those in attendance for continued prayers for the priesthood and consecrated life.
“For as we pray, the Lord listens. We live in a world where Jesus is present. Jesus is the one who has called you forth and to love him,” he said.
As the ordination neared the conclusion, Bishop Stika knelt before each new priest to receive their blessing in a moving display of fidelity.
The bishop, priests and deacons gathered outside the church and clapped as the newly ordained priests processed out and joined their ranks.
Father Blatchford, who is 30, was born in Bloomington, Ind., and grew up in Chattanooga. He graduated from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. He will serve as associate pastor at All Saints Church in Knoxville.
Father Budnick, who is 42, is originally from Grand Rapids, Mich., and moved to East Tennessee in 1997. He formerly worked as a sports producer for Knoxville television station WVLT before enrolling in the seminary. He graduated from Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis. He will continue to offer sacramental ministry at St. Albert the Great Church in Knoxville until joining the faculty and serving as chaplain at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga beginning in August.
Father Cardona , who is 33, is originally from Pereira, Columbia, and formerly was a teacher. He graduated from St. Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind., and will serve as an associate pastor at St. Mary Church in Johnson City.
Father Kane, who is 31, is originally from Lynchburg, Tenn. He converted to Catholicism as a young adult and is a graduate of St. Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology. He will be an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville.