New priests are to be servant-leaders, cardinal says

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

New priests are to be servant-leaders, cardinal says

Cardinal Cupich ordained eight new priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago May 18, 2019. The new priests, he said, are ordained to be servant-leaders for the people of God.
Ordinandi Marco Antonio Franco, Ryan McMillin and Canon Regular Brother Matthew Schuster prepare for their ordination during the opening procession. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Ordinandi Jay Suero gives promise of obedience and respect to Cardinal Cupich. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
The ordinandi lay prostrate as the congregation prays the litany of saints over them. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
The ordinandi lay prostrate as the congregation prays the litany of saints over them. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich lays his hands on Patrick Kizza. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Francis Bitterman, pastor of St. Josaphat Parish, lays hands on David Yallaly, a Canon Regular of St. John Cantius, during the ordination. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Priests from around the archdiocese attend the ordination. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Canon Regular Father Scott Thelander vests newly ordained Canon Regular Matthew Schuster. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Canon Regular Father David Yallaly receives the "Kiss of Peace" and congratulations from Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich anoints the hands of newly ordained Father Ton Nguyen. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich presents the paten and chalice to Father Robert Carlton. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Newly ordained priests (from left) Marco Antonio Franco; Ryan McMillin; Matthew Schuster, SJC; David Yallaly, SJC; Jay Suero; Ton Nguyen; Patrick Kizza; and Robert Carlton concelebrate ordination Mass with Cardinal Cupich and the archdiocese’s auxiliary bishops (back row) on May 18, 2019, at Holy Name Cathedral. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
The newly ordained priests give Cardinal Cupich a blessing at the end of Mass. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
The congregation applauds as the newly ordained priests walk in the final procession. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
Father Ryan McMillin blesses his father Charles following the ordination liturgy. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Newly ordained Father Marco Franco receives congratulatory hugs following his ordination. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich ordained eight diocesan priests on May 18, 2019 at Holy Name Cathedral. The candidates for ordination range in age from 28 to 38 and hail from the Chicagoland area and Michigan, as well as Mexico, Uganda and Vietnam. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Cardinal Cupich ordained eight new priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago May 18. The new priests, he said, are ordained to be servant-leaders for the people of God.

“Today the eight of you are publicly stating through your ordination that you know your place, and you are ready to take it in the community,” Cardinal Cupich said in his homily, after recalling his own parents’ admonition to their children to “know their place.”

“Yes, you are taking a place of leadership, but it is servant leadership,” he said. “It is not a matter of serving by leading, but of leading by serving. Accepting a servant’s place does not come easily, as we see when an argument breaks out among the apostles about who is the greatest. It requires an ongoing conversion that rejects the natural tendency to put oneself first and embrace instead becoming one who is more conformed to Christ.”

The men, all between 28 and 38 years old, hail from the archdiocese itself, as well as from Mexico, Uganda and Vietnam. Some grew up knowing they wanted to become priests; others discerned a call to the vocation of priesthood after exploring other paths.

The bilingual ordination liturgy at Holy Name Cathedral included the rituals of promising obedience to the archbishop, lying prostrate in front of the altar with the whole congregation singing the litany of the saints over them, the laying on of hands — the actual moment of ordination — and having the new priests vested in stoles and chasubles. Their hands were anointed with sacred chrism oil.

All of them celebrated their first Masses later that day and on May 19.

Cardinal Cupich told the new priests that they also remind the people they serve to remain focused on the reality of salvation and eternal life.

“The servant-leaders of the church need to bear witness that God continues to save and call us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus,” he said.

The gifts conferred by ordination will help the new priests minister as servant-leaders, Cardinal Cupich said.

“You have to like people,” he said. “That might sound obvious, but if you don’t like people, if you don’t like being with them, you’re not going to be happy as a priest. Be aware that a special gift given to you today is to enhance your already present desire to be with people, to see your encounters with those you serve not as a burden, but as a blessing.”

Newly ordained Father Ton Nguyen, 28, said he discovered what the cardinal talked about when he ministered as a deacon at Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish in Park Ridge.

“When I got to the parish, I felt like I would bring Jesus to them,” he said. “But when I got there, I found that Jesus lives in them already.”

Nguyen said he came to Chicago when he learned there was a need for more priests here. There is no shortage of vocations to the priesthood from his village in Vietnam, he said. He is the 20th man ordained from the village, and 18 more are in seminary. There are also many religious sisters, including his older sister, who lives in a cloistered convent in France.

His sister received special permission to attend the ordination in Chicago, Nguyen said. His parents also came, but his other siblings and their families were unable to make the journey.

As a child, he loved the priest in his parish and wanted to emulate him so much that he practiced by shepherding cows. But he ended up studying business in college and had a job lined up when he graduated. It was then that he decided that life working in commerce was not what he was called to.

As he discerned his vocation, he was invited to study to be a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago by Father Paul Cao. His mother was not initially pleased with the idea of having him move so far away, he said, especially since his sister was already in Europe.

“She said God already took one of her children far away, and now he was asking for another one,” Nguyen said. “But then she said, if that is what God wants, then go.”

Nguyen will begin his priestly ministry as associate pastor of St. Julie Billiart in Tinley Park and said he most wants to celebrate Mass.

“I want to bring people God himself in the Eucharist,” Nguyen said.

Newly ordained Father Marco Antonio Franco, 28, said he was also attracted to the priesthood by the example of his pastor in Zapopan, Mexico, and he began his seminary studies at the age of 12.

“I like to say my vocation and I are twins,” Franco. “We were born together.”

He took time away from the seminary when his second-oldest brother was killed in a car accident, staying at home and attending college in his home city. When he was ready to return to the seminary, he came to Chicago, knowing there was a need for priests here.

His parents and two surviving brothers were among the 20 family members who traveled to Chicago for his ordination.

He will continue his ministry at Good Shepherd Parish in Little Village, where he served as a deacon and has already baptized 80 babies. He is also looking forward to hearing confessions so that he can bring the same mercy he has received to others.

“When I was leaving Mexico, a priest there told me not to come, that people here don’t go to church,” Franco said. “But the church is still very important to people here.”

Newly ordained Father Ryan McMillin returned home from his post-college job to the Archdiocese of Chicago to study for the priesthood. He studied math and statistics in college, but when he graduated, he found his work unfulfilling.

“I had a lot of time to think about what kind of life would be most fulfilling,” he said. “Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was called to be a priest.”

McMillin, who will serve at St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, said he is most looking forward to the ministry of preaching and teaching and helping his parishioners understand the Word of God.

The complete ordination Mass can be viewed at


  • priests
  • ordination

Related Articles