‘This is a day of joy and hope for the entire diocese’

By Tim Lilley

The Message editor

Deacon Stephen prostrates himself before the altar during the Litany of Supplication. The Message photos by Tim Lilley

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel ordained Deacon Stephen P. McGinnis to the priesthood June 3 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. During his homily, Bishop Siegel said, “This is a day of joy and hope for the entire diocese.”

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel lays his hands on Deacon Stephen P. McGinnis and ordains him to the priesthood June 3 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.

Father Stephen will begin his pastoral ministry June 28 as Parochial Vicar of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Vincennes and St Philip Neri Parish in Bicknell. The announcement of his appointment appears in this issue of The Message.

More than 30 priests of the Diocese of Evansville attended and concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Siegel, and more than a dozen deacons attended and participated. Deacon Caleb Scherzinger served as Deacon of the Altar, and Deacon Philip Rogier served as Deacon of the Word. Seminarians of the Diocese of Evansville served the Mass. Masters of Ceremonies included Father Chris Forler, Father Christopher Droste, Larry Durchholz and Matt Miller.

Father Stephen’s brother Scott served as a lector. Carolyn Thorpe, RCIA Coordinator of St. Bernard Parish in Rockport, Father Stephen’s home diocese, served as the other lector. Gift bearers included Father Stephen’s sister, Kara (McGinnis) Sparks, her husband Shawn and their son Evan. Jennifer Korba led the St. Benedict Cathedral choir. Jeremy Korba served as accompanist.

Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus served as the Honor Guard for the Mass. Members of the Serra Club of the Diocese of Evansville and St. Benedict Cathedral parishioners served as greeters.

After the Liturgy of the Word and before Bishop Siegel’s homily, Diocesan Director of Vocations Father Tyler Tenbarge presented Deacon Stephen to the bishop for election. Bishop Siegel responded, “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our savior Jesus Christ, we choose this, our brother, for the order of the priesthood.”

Deacon Stephen, right, stands with his sister Kara (McGinnis) Sparks, his nephew Evan Sparks, brother-in-law Shawn Sparks and his brother, Scott.

During his homily, Bishop Siegel expanded on the theme of joy and hope by noting that, with ordinations expected to occur over the next two years, there is reason to hope that eight new priests will soon be serving the local Church. He added that, with God’s grace, the diocese expects to have 20 seminarians next year.

He urged all to continue to pray and hope for priestly vocations - not only to mitigate current needs, but out of concern for future generations.

Father Stephen’s brother Scott McGinnis served as a lector.

Addressing Deacon Stephen, the bishop explained that the Sacrament of Holy Orders has vertical and horizontal elements. He said that, through the vertical element, the Holy Spirit will come down and fill the depths of his soul, adding that God will anoint him and send him to speak and act in the very person of Jesus.

The horizontal element will include a new relationship with his brother priests and the lay faithful. Bishop Siegel added that the unity of a bishop with his priests and the presbyterate is crucial to our mission, saying, “For unless we are united, our ministry will not be fruitful.”

Bishop Siegel urged Deacon Stephen to receive priestly ordination’s gift of the spirit gratefully and humbly, cherishing and nurturing it by daily prayer. He told Deacon Stephen to listen to the people he will serve, and get to know them, adding, “Help them to know Christ through His Word and the breaking of the bread…. If you are a faithful witness, you will draw many to God’s household.”

Bishop Siegel concluded by say that, with great hope, we look forward to all that God will accomplish though the ministry of Father Stephen. 

The Promise of the Elect and the Litany of Supplication followed Bishop Siegel’s homily. Deacon Stephen prostrated himself before the altar during the litany. He then arose and approached the bishop, kneeling before him. Bishop Siegel laid his hands upon Deacon Stephen’s head, followed by the priests in attendance. Bishop Siegel then said the Prayer of Ordination. A portion of that prayer includes, “May he be joined to us, Lord, in imploring your mercy for the people entrusted to him and for the whole world.”

Father Stephen, left, stands with Bishop Siegel after his Ordination Mass.

Father Ron Kreilein, pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Rockport, assisted Father Stephen in vesting for the remainder of the Mass. Bishop Siegel followed by anointing Father Stephen’s hands and handing over to him the bread and wine. He joined Bishop Siegel and the rest of the priests in attendance in exchanging a fraternal kiss of peace with Father Stephen. 

Father Stephen joined the other priests of the diocese to concelebrate the remainder of the Mass with Bishop Siegel. The bishop and the priests greeted their new brother on the steps of the cathedral immediately after Mass. A reception followed in the St. Benedict Cathedral Woodward Center.

Father Stephen celebrated his first Mass June 4 at his home parish, St. Bernard in Rockport. See coverage in this issue of The Message.