Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jun
  • 7


Posted By June 7, 2012 | 1:05 pm | Lead Story #1

By Tanya Connor

The standing-room only congregation applauded, cheered and waved pieces of cloth, including a Ghanaian flag. The first Ghanaian was being ordained a priest for the Worcester diocese, along with a Colombian and two young men reared here.
Worshippers overflowed the pews and filled the old choir loft in St. Paul Cathedral Saturday for the ordination of Fathers Eric Kwaku Asante of Ghana; Hugo Alejandro Cano Montaño of Colombia; Michael James-Paul Clements of Leominster, and Jonathan Joseph Slavinskas of Worcester. Ghanaian and Lithuanian choirs were among those providing music. (Father Slavinskas’ father, Daniel Slavinskas, is originally from St. Casimir’s, a former Lithuanian Parish in Worcester.)
“I thought it was beautiful to see all the cultures come together,” said Father Jeb Donelan, of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., who attended St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia with Father Asante. “I’ve never seen people clap so much.”
“The four priests … reflected the diversity of cultures who are part of our Catholic Church,” said Msgr. Edmond T. Tinsley, assisting priest at St. John Parish in Worcester, Father Slavinskas’ home parish. “With the numbers of people who attended, it reflected the great joy, the great thanksgiving, that people had.”
“It was just glorious,” enthused Deborah Slavinskas, Father Slavinskas’ mother. “It was a Cloud 9 weekend; I was above all the rain.” She said she was on a euphoric high like a mother feels after delivering a child.
“It’s such a beautiful Mass, but, when it’s your own son, it’s just magnified a thousand times – at least,” she said of ordination Masses, which she’s attended before. “It’s what he always wanted. You just want your children to be happy.”
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Father Clements’ mother, Joyce Garinger, said. “It seems like it’s been a long time that he’s wanted to be a priest.” He had achieved his dream.
While thanking those who prepared and served at the Mass and those who supported the new priests, Bishop McManus spoke in Spanish to Father Cano’s mother, Rosilia de Jesus Montaño, who came from Colombia for the occasion. (His father, José Ignacio Cano, is deceased.)
With local Ghanaian friends were Father Asante’s parents, Christian Asante and Margaret Brako, here for the first time from Ghana.
“We are so happy that we got a priest in our family,” said Father Asante’s family friend Francisca Assabil, of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Worcester. “We give thanks to God for what he has done.”
“He’s the first Ghanaian priest for the whole Diocese of Worcester,” rejoiced Nicholas Obeng, president of the Ghanaian Catholic community at St. Joan of Arc. “We are very proud of him.” He expressed thanks to God, and for Father Asante responding positively to God and bringing honor on the Ghanaian community, and said they will continue to pray for him.
“Today’s just a wonderful, wonderful day,” said Nancy Kezer, of Our Lady of Good Council Parish in West Boylston. “It’s been a long road. I’ve ‘adopted’ Hugo and Father (Manuel) Clavijo, who’s already been ordained. They’re my two Colombians. They brought so much joy to our life and liveliness to our home.
“He will be such a good priest,” she said of Father Cano. “He’s so kind and loving.” She said his mother was staying with her, her husband, Richard, and their daughter, Susan, a Spanish teacher who helps with translation.
“Once in awhile we go to St. John’s and they always say, ‘Pray for Jonathan,’” Mrs. Kezer said of Father Slavinskas’ parish. She said she also knew slightly the other two men ordained Saturday – from attending functions at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, where they studied.
Bishop McManus routinely asks prayers for vocations and noted Saturday that without priests there is no Eucharist.
“Today the Church is at her best, when she celebrates the Eucharist and ordains priests,” he said.
“I think it was one of the most beautiful and awesome experiences of Church – what Church is and what Church should be,” Father James F. Hoey said of the multicultural Mass. “I spoke on it Sunday. I spoke to several other priests who spoke on it Sunday.”
Father Hoey is pastor of Mary, Queen of the Rosary Parish in Spencer, where Father Clements served the past four months. Father Clements credits him with initiating his discernment for priesthood by making him an altar server when they were both at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Leominster.
“It was a real thrill for me to see Michael,” Father Hoey said. “I was very proud of him.” He said Father Clements is to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at Mary, Queen of the Rosary at 10:15 a.m. June 17, with a public reception following.
Among Father Asante’s Masses of Thanksgiving was one Sunday at St. Joan of Arc, where Ghanaians, some in traditional dress, some in vestments or religious habits, sang and danced exuberantly and at length. Father Asante said friends from his parish in Ghana came from New York, Texas and Minnesota for the celebration.