The Church Is With You
by Jennifer Szweda Jordan
May 25, 2018


On the eve of Pentecost 2018, considered the Church’s birthday, the ordination of two new Paulist Fathers marked the continual fulfillment of Christ sending forth gifted servant-leaders.

“Jesus promised that He would not leave us orphaned, but that He would send His Holy Spirit who raises in the Church every kind of spiritual gift,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., archbishop of Newark.

The cardinal presided at the Ordination Mass of Paulist Fr. Ryan Casey and Paulist Fr. Michael Hennessy on Saturday, May 19, in New York’s Church of St. Paul the Apostle.

“I thank you,” Cardinal Tobin said to the Paulists, “for this honor of celebrating God’s faithfulness to His Church.”

By tradition, the first Pentecost occurred 50 days after Easter when people miraculously heard the teachings of Christ in their own languages. The feast was an appropriate one on which to welcome two new priests who learned about the Paulists through a relatively new communications media, the “Busted Halo Show” on satellite radio hosted by Paulist Fr. Dave Dwyer.

The Ordination Mass and the new priests’  Masses of Thanksgiving the next day revealed the Christian messages of love in a wide variety of musical languages, including “Ave Maria” by a National Children’s Chorus soloist, traditional Latin chants, the Caribbean “Halle Halle Halle!,” and a Swahili version of The Lord’s Prayer (“Baba Yetu”).

Priests and prophets from biblical history were invoked through the Ordination Mass. First, cantor Jonathan Morales sang Psalm 110: “You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.”

Later, Cardinal Tobin recalled Jeremiah’s hesitance.

“Jeremiah was destined to be a prophet, even from his youth. And as the prophet became aware of this call, he could not help but be overwhelmed by his unworthiness,” the cardinal said. “Though you are conscious of your weakness in the face of the great gift you will receive, the judgment of the church should be your confidence. It’s not a selfie. The church is with you.”


Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., ordains Paulist Ryan Casey to the priesthood.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., ordains Paulist Ryan Casey to the priesthood.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., ordains Paulist Michael Hennessy to the priesthood.


Cardinal Tobin spoke highly of the Paulist Fathers community. He said that, just like Pope Francis is recognized for speaking a language modern ears can understand, this trait been a hallmark of the Paulists for 160 years.

“From its very origin your congregation has sought to speak the word of God in a language people can understand,” the cardinal said. “Servant of God Isaac Hecker and his companions suffered much for this. Yet their perseverance has enriched the church in incredible ways. Like Pope Francis, you combine words and images so that your hearts may speak to the hearts of others.

“May God use you to awaken people to a love of Christ, the true antidote of fear,” the cardinal said in closing his homily. “In a world where some dream of beautiful walls, you will build bridges.”


Brand new Paulist Fathers Michael Hennessy and Ryan Casey with Cardinal Tobin and their parents following the Ordination Mass
Brand new Paulist Fathers Michael Hennessy and Ryan Casey with Cardinal Tobin and their parents following the Ordination Mass


After the ordination, Fr. Mike reflected on the experience.

“I got emotional thinking about my journey in the seminary and with the Paulists, because it’s been six years.  But, but also thinking about other family members who’ve gone before me, lifting me up in prayer that I could feel,” he said. “So it was just a great gift.”

Fr. Mike’s first priestly assignment will be at the Cathedral of St. Andrew and the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, MI. It will be a return to the location of one of his summer assignments where he first developed and delivered a very popular talk on the Catholic traditions of brewing beer.

Fr. Ryan said that his ordination was equally a celebration of his family and church community.

“I’m just very happy. I’m just really glad that I’m a Paulist and I’m a part of this community and glad that I now get the opportunity, as a priest, to go out and share the message, and help people who are looking for meaning in the world,” he said.

Fr. Ryan’s first assignment will be in Los Angeles at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Community. Though he’s a native of Illinois, it could be a perfect fit for this devotee of popular culture with a penchant for successfully predicting Oscar nominees.

Jennifer Szweda Jordan is a journalist based in Pittsburgh.  Listen to her interviews with some of the Paulist Fathers at Soundcloud and Storycorps.

Photos by Joe Jenkins.

Watch the Ordination Mass:

Watch Fr. Ryan’s First Mass:

Watch Fr. Mike’s First Mass: