‘Shepherds after my own heart’

Bishop J. Mark Spalding ordained two new priests, Father Juan Carlos Garcia-Mendoza and Father Javier Suarez Montañez, on Saturday, Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Bishop Spalding urged the two new priests to “keep Mary close … she will guide you, protect you.” It was the first time for the diocese that all the men in an ordination class were Latino, and several of the readings, prayers and hymns for the Mass were in Spanish.

Father Garcia-Mendoza was vested by Father Fernando Lopez, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, and Father Dan Steiner, pastor of Holy Rosary Church. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Father Garcia-Mendoza’s home parish and he served as a pastoral associate at Holy Rosary. Father Suarez Montañez was vested by Father Eric Fowlkes, pastor of the Cathedral and former pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Church, where he served as a pastoral associate.

Because the ordination took place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, several precautions were put in place to avoid the spread of the virus, including limited attendance, social distancing, mask wearing and wide availability and use of hand sanitizer.

Father Garcia-Mendoza has begun serving as Associate Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, and Father Suarez Montañez has begun serving as Associate Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville.

Photos by Rick Musacchio