Bishop Spalding urges new priests to bring Christ to the world  

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Bishop J. Mark Spalding ordained Fathers Nonso Ohanaka and Brent Thayer to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville on Saturday, May 28. Photos by Rick Musacchio

Bishop J. Mark Spalding sent the two newest priests for the Diocese of Nashville, Father Brent Thayer and Father Nonso Ohanaka, out into the world to bring the presence of Christ. 

“I send you into the world and it’s a mess. … and it’s full of chaos,” Bishop Spalding said during his homily at the Mass to ordain Father Thayer and Father Ohanaka on Saturday, May 28, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. “But into that mess and chaos you will bring in your very person, the very presence of Christ. That presence overcomes all that is evil, that is sinful, that is hateful, that is dark, that is death.” 

Into the midst of the wounds and suffering in the world, Bishop Spalding told the new priests, “You will bring the love, the healing, the help of Jesus himself, and we all need that.” 

The ordination brought to a close the long journey of seminary formation for Father Ohanaka and Father Thayer. Beginning June 27, they will begin their first assignments as priests:  

  • Father Ohanaka will serve as the full-time Chaplain at Pope John Paul II Preparatory School, Chaplain of the Catholic Youth Office, and part-time Associate Pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville.  
  • Father Thayer will serve as the full-time Chaplain of Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Chaplain of Camp Marymount, the Catholic summer camp in Fairview, and as part-time Associate Pastor of St. Edward Church in Nashville. 

“We as priests, we are an icon, we’re an image of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Spalding said in his homily. “Christ is a perfect icon of God. We are an imperfect icon of Jesus Christ, but we’re always seeking perfection. We’re always striving, asking God to send us the strength to be perfected into the image of Jesus Christ. 

“We’re always praying, ‘Lord, send the Holy Spirit upon me, so I can be Christ for others,’” Bishop Spalding said. “In the special way, the ministerial priesthood, you will be Christ for others. We hunger for that presence in the world.” 

There are three things Bishop Spalding expects of his new priests, he told them. 
“Be men of prayer,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to talk to Jesus before you can talk about Jesus. 

“Be good brothers to your fellow priests,” Bishop Spalding said. “Be a brother to them, and they’ll be a good brother to you. A priest who is alone will lose his way. But a priest who has other good brother priests and their people with them, will know the way and will tell others about the way.” 

And lastly, he said, “Be with your people.” 

“Every day try to reduce suffering,” Bishop Spalding said. “And every day make sure another knows they are loved, and they are not alone.” 

The bishop thanked the families of the two young priests. “They wouldn’t be here without you, without your love, without your care, without your support, without your challenge as they were growing up as young men,” he said. “And we thank you as the Diocese of Nashville.” 

“May more families see in your example a way for their sons and daughters to serve the Church in a profound way and most especially in the priesthood and religious life,” he added. 

“This love that we’ve received from God shown to us through our family and our friends and in the Church … needs to be taken out there because there is so much that is dark and difficult,” Bishop Spalding said. “But when you have the love that’s been given to both of you and take it out there, it pushes back what is dark and difficult and deadly, and gives light and mercy and life, a full life.” 

“Thank you for your yes,” Bishop Spalding said to Father Ohanaka and Father Thayer. “Thank you for your promise. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for the that sacrificial life you will live as a priest. It is not easy. But with the Lord, with your brother priests, with your people, you will be perfected more and more into the very image of Jesus himself.” 

More about the ordination of Father Nonso Ohanaka and Father Brent Thayer is coming. Be sure to check 

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