'You Are A Priest Forever'

It was a really big day, eh!

Deacon Jonathan Inskip, MIC, became Fr. Jonathan Inskip, MIC, on May 16, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kamloops, British Columbia (BC), Canada, surrounded by many of his family, friends, brother Marians, and a number of Marian Helpers. The Most Rev. David J. Monroe, bishop of the Kamloops diocese, ordained Fr. Jonathan.

Here's a look:

The weekend was incredibly significant to Fr. Jonathan and his family for a variety of reasons, explained Fr. Jonathan during his cake talk after his first Mass, celebrated in Sacred Heart Cathedral on May 17.

• May 16, the day of his ordination, was the birthday of Gerry, his mother, and the 31st anniversary of Bruce, his father, entering the Catholic Church.

• May 17, the day of his first Mass, was the 90th anniversary of St. Therese's canonization, one of Fr. Jonathan's favorite saints; the solemnity of the Ascension, the liturgical anniversary of Fr. Jonathan's First Holy Communion; and the seventh anniversary of the death of his uncle and godfather, Gordon Inskip (Fr. Jonathan asks your prayers for his uncle).

• May 18, the day of his second Mass celebrated at his home parish of St. Joseph's in Salmon Arm, BC, was the feast day of Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski, founder of the Congregation of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Victoria Day, a national holiday in Canada, meaning Canadians had the day off and were able to travel to the Salmon Arm for his Mass there.

"I thank God for the grace and blessing that he's given me of being able to have this ordination and my first Mass and second Mass on this weekend," said Fr. Jonathan.

+ + + View a photo gallery from the celebration.+ + +

At the evening dinner in the gymnasium of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School after his ordination, Fr. Jonathan had two very significant gifts for his parents. He gave to his mother the maniturgium, the cloth used to wipe the oil of ordination from the hands of the new priest, saying, "Happy birthday, Mom." The cloth was embroidered with Fr. Jonathan's name, the date, and a small cross. When she dies, the maniturgium will be buried with her, placed in her hands, as a sign that she will go before God as a mother of a priest.

For his father, Fr. Jonathan followed the lead of Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, the director of the Association of Marian Helpers, who was ordained just last year, in having a special stole set aside for use during his first few confessions. After he'd heard several confessions, Fr. Jonathan said, he'd give the stole to his father, to be kept until his father died. Then it also would be placed in his father's hands and buried with him as a sign that he was a father of a priest, and could go before God with evidence of that gift given to Christ and His Church.

Gerry Inskip, Fr. Jonathan's mother, thanked her son for a most special gift on her birthday, and then offered a special thank you to everyone present and everyone who'd played a role in the family's journey to this ordination day, including the Marian Helpers. "I really want to thank everyone here for all of your support, all the ways in which you've been helpful in our lives," she said. "Everything that we do affects another person, and we just don't realize to what extent that can be. We are so grateful for everyone."

Father Jonathan is the only Canadian currently serving as a priest in the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and hopefully not the last. Another man from Canada is with the Congregation under temporary vows now, with another Canadian in the application process.

The great distances of Canada can help form a very particular kind of priest, described by Bishop Monroe in comments after the Mass of Ordination. When asked what sort of ministry he looked for in new priests, he said, "You have to be generous; you have to be willing to go distances, because there are small communities, far apart," all throughout the diocese of Kamloops. "We've got 120,000 square kilometers (about 46,000 square miles) with 65 churches and 20 priests. On a Sunday from Williams Lake, one priest could be traveling between 400 and 500 kilometers on a Saturday/Sunday to go to three little parishes."

He also discussed the foundational importance of mercy in a priest's ministry. "It has to be there," he said. "I mean, that's the background. Mercy is seeing need in whatever direction, or goodness, and responding to it, in whatever way, like the Cure of Ars" St. Jean Vianney (1786-1859), the universal patron of priests. "He was a wonderful example. He mortified himself so that he'd be free to give [to] others. Of course, he showed the greatest mercy" in his extraordinary ministry in the confessional, offering the Sacrament of Confession for hours every day to thousands of pilgrims.

Soon, Fr. Jonathan will be heading to Rome to pursue a licentiate degree, which licenses a person to teach in a seminary, from one of the pontifical schools. It will be the latest step in a 12-year time of formation for the priesthood, much of which has been overseen by his superiors in the Marians. Father Jim McCormack, MIC, superior of the Marians' house of studies in Washington, D.C., delivered the homily at Fr. Jonathan's first Mass on May 17, and has been integrally involved in Fr. Jonathan's formation for some time.

"Father Jonathan has wonderful gifts with liturgy, of course," said Fr. Jim. "I'm sure he will do great things with liturgy, but he also has a great love of St. Therese of Lisieux. He's given some wonderful homilies about St. Therese, and I think he himself lives, in a very beautiful way, St. Therese's little way. So I think he'll be a great inspiration to people in that sense, because he will not only preach about, but also live the little way of St. Therese.

"I think there are many aspects of his priesthood that are yet to evolve because I've seen little hints here and there," continued Fr. Jim. "For example, I saw him helping someone in a hospital setting, and he had a great, charitable heart in that setting. It was beautiful to see, so I think he'll be a man of great mercy. He's certainly very knowledgeable, but he also above all has that great desire in his heart to help souls. I think in his various capacities as a priest, perhaps in the confessional, certainly in preaching, he will always live from that thirst to truly help the souls who come to him. I think he will be very generous with his time to people in seeking to help them in that way."

"I've seen him grow and develop, mature," said the Very Rev. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior for the Marians in the United States and Argentina. "He's very dedicated, he's got a lively faith, he's committed, he has a sense of great responsibility for people, for Christ's mission. I can see much good for the mission of the Church as well as for our own community" coming from the ministry of the newly ordained Fr. Jonathan.

"It's just a great, great, great joy."

And that joy of having a new priest in the Church and the Marian Fathers was made possible by the Marian Helpers, said Fr. Kaz.

"We would not be able to make it without the assistance of the Marian Helpers," he explained. "They are the very foundation of both spiritual assistance, because they pray for us and make our mission possible in the spiritual realm, but also help us materially. How many seminarian donors we have! Thanks be to God! The expenses are there and every year, somehow they come through, every year. God provides.

"As the numbers of men in formation have grown, the Lord is giving us that grace through the Association of Marian Helpers," Fr. Kaz continued. "We're so grateful for each one of them, and for the families who have been faithful to us for years. I know there are many Association members who've been helping us for decades, even, and may God reward them. I'm just so grateful to God for them. You also have those who, perhaps because of economic difficulties, are not able to assist us financially, but we always ask them to pray for us, even if they are not active anymore the way they were. We rely on that prayer.

"Maybe there are some who are reading this who may not be members yet," Fr. Kaz concluded. "I would love to invite them to share in the spiritual powerhouse that we have in the Association of Marian Helpers, a spiritual benefit society. We celebrate Masses for the Association members, we pray for them, we remember them and so many of their family members who have passed away in the Mass intentions we offer. We also have the seminarians who remember the members, not only through Masses, but their prayers and novenas that we do in each house. We feel that that's the least we could do for them, but we're happy to do that; we're grateful to them."

Here's the first Mass homily for Fr. Jonathan Inskip, MIC, on Sunday, May 18, by Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC, at Sacred Heart Cathedral:

To learn more about Marian vocations and support the men in formation, please go to our Vocations Support page.

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