Bishop Spalding ordains two new priests of the Diocese of Nashville

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The priests of the Diocese of Nashville lay their hands on the newly ordained Father Oscar A. Romero Avelino and Father Augustine Mang during their ordination Mass on Saturday, May 27, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Photo by Larry McCormack

The Diocese of Nashville officially has two new priests of Jesus Christ following the ordination of Father Augustine Mang and Father Oscar A. Romero Avelino on Saturday, May 27, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville.

“It’s crazy. I can’t believe it,” said Father Mang. “When the Mass was done, I was talking to Father Oscar and said, ‘We are priests now, eternally, forever and ever.’ Who am I to be able to receive this great, amazing blessing? It feels so awesome.

“I’m very happy, but at the same time very peaceful,” he continued. “It is with the grace of God because I thought I would be so nervous and anxious, but, instead, I was able to enjoy it with an inner peace and an inner joy that I’ve never experienced before, and I’m very thankful for that gift.”

“It is all still sinking in,” Father Romero Avelino added. “I’m very grateful. Tears of joy were coming out the entire Mass.”

Father Mang and Father Romero Avelino’s ordinations came after several years of study and formation through the diocese’s Office of Vocations.

“It’s a pretty amazing experience,” said Father Luke Wilgenbusch, director of vocations, of witnessing the ordination. “It’s been an awesome day to see them give their lives away to God and see the joy of the people to see these new priests.”

Hundreds filled the Cathedral to witness the ordination, which included hearing them make their promises, the prayer of ordination, and the laying on of hands by Bishop J. Mark Spalding and the priests of the diocese.

Father Mang said it was the laying on of hands that was the most profound moment for him.

“My dad passed away when I was 3 years old, so I’ve never gotten the love and the care from my biological father. But in that moment, it was like the Heavenly Father was showing me how much He loved me,” explained Father Mang, who was born in Myanmar. “Every time one of the priests laid his hands on me, it was like the Heavenly Father was telling me, ‘This is how much I love you. You’re not abandoned. You are not an orphan. I have always been with you. I am your Father, and I will always be with you.’

“I always knew of his love but feeling it that way was a whole new experience,” he added. “The Heavenly Father loves me so much to the point where he is consecrating me to the priesthood of His Son.”

The ordination celebration also included the vesting of the priests with a stole and chasuble, the anointing of the new priests’ hands with oil, and the handing over of the bread and wine. Additionally, the readings were read in Zopau, Spanish, and English, to represent the heritage of both men.

For Father Romero Avelino, who was born in Mexico and grew up in Nashville, it was all made more special by the chosen music throughout, including Psalm 88, and the closing hymn, “O God Beyond All Praising.”

“The psalm was a very good reminder of the graces of ordination,” Father Romero Avelino said. “Then, singing ‘O God Beyond All Praising,’ it reminds me of (the late) Bishop (David) Choby, who is the bishop I entered with, so that hit home with me.

“That was the hymn he always liked,” he explained. “Whenever that hymn was chanted at Mass, you would hear him sing it out loud and because he had such a strong voice, you could hear it echoing throughout the Cathedral.”

During his homily, Bishop Spalding reminded the new priests of what their new role means and signifies for the Church.

“You will now preach the word that is Christ. You will now lift up for us, Christ Himself in the Eucharist, that great offering of the Son to the Father and the Father giving that offering to us as a whole,” Bishop Spalding said. “It is wonderful, the great calling you’ve said ‘yes’ to. Now we want to see all those many gifts, those many charisms, to go forth into the Church and to guide us and lead us as a people.  

“The ministerial priest brings to others Christ the Eucharist, His body and blood, soul and divinity,” the bishop continued. “You bring Christ to others in the sacrament of reconciliation, knowing God’s love and mercy. You bring Christ to others in the leadership you will give us in the community as you preach and teach.  

“Then, you bring others into Christ,” he said. “We ask and we pray that you will bring forth the many gifts that you have been given in your life through your families, through your friends, through your parish communities … and bring that word, that teaching, that preaching to others.”  

“You dedicate yourself in a profound way in your priesthood, taking on the celibate life that you have, understanding that gift of self totally for the Church,” Bishop Spalding concluded. “It gives us a sign and symbol of what we are called to be, totally dedicated to God, and that witness gives us inspiration in all of our promises that we have made before God and everyone. 

“Augustine, Oscar, we’re praying for you this day and always. May you be another way that leads us to Christ and ultimately to His father in heaven. Amen.”  

Following the ordination Mass, the people gathered in the Fleming Center of the Cathedral for a reception and a chance to receive one of the first blessings of the newly ordained priests.

As his mother, Raquel Avelino became the first of Father Romero Avelino’s blessings after Bishop Spalding.

“It’s very exciting and I feel like I’m flying and can feel the Holy Spirit,” Raquel Avelino said of her son’s ordination. “I feel very blessed.”

“I pray to God that He will lead him in everything and that he does everything humbly,” she added.

“It’s unexplainable because he’s the first priest in the family and it’s something that’s very exciting. I still can’t believe it,” added his father, Miguel Angel Romero. “I pray to God that He always keeps him in good health in order to lead the community.”

With their ordinations official, Fathers Mang and Romero Avelino will begin their first assignments on June 26. Father Mang will be completing his graduate studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and will also be celebrating Masses throughout the year.

“I have to live and try to learn,” Father Mang said. “Even though I’m a priest now, I’m like a newborn baby entering into a new world and learning to live that life. It has to be with the grace of God that I must conform my life to Christ, so that I can live His priesthood.”

Father Romero Avelino will serve as associate pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro.

“I’m looking forward to actually having fun with all the parishioners and of course guide them towards Jesus Christ, which is the main goal of my ministry,” he said. “To teach them that God alone suffices, it’s an even more hopeful end to our life.”

To view the full ordination Mass, visit the Diocese of Nashville Facebook page.

Gallery photos by Katie Peterson and Larry McCormack

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