Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Five-recessThe congregation applauds newly ordained Fathers Joseph J. Cretella, Carlos Andrews Echavarria, Thomas W. Hickey, Klaudiusz Kos, and John E. Pahl, on May 15 in the Cathedral of St. Joseph. (Photo by Bob Mullen) See photo gallery for more.

 HARTFORD – Joy and gratitude filled the Cathedral of St. Joseph May 15 as five men, including two permanent deacons, a former Baptist minister and candidates from Colombia and Poland were ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Jubilant faithful and the families of those being ordained poured into the cathedral, including the children and grandchildren of two of the candidates.

Those promising to discharge the duties of the office of priesthood before Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, the ordaining prelate, were Father Joseph "Jay" John Cretella, 71, a permanent deacon of 32 years who was married for 40 years and has three children and seven grandchildren; Father Carlos Andres Echavarria Ocampo, 29, of Itagui, Colombia; Father Thomas William Hickey, 60, a Baptist minister for 25 years who has three daughters and three grandchildren; Father Sebastian Klaudiusz Kos, 33, of Zywiec, Poland, who was inspired by the example of his parish priest and the late Pope John Paul II; and Father John Edward Pahl, 67, a permanent deacon of 28 years and former banker. For more about the new priests, click here.

"We’re just in a state of awe," said Dorothy Brzozowski, Father Pahl’s sister, "because he received his calling. We’re very, very, very happy for him."

With equal enthusiasm, Natalie Dugay of Sterling, Va., Father Cretella’s daughter, said, "It’s wonderful. It’s bringing his entire life to completion."

Echoing those sentiments were the daughters of Father Hickey. "We’re very, very excited to see him so happy," said Alison Johnston of Charlotte, Va. Her sister, Rebekah Hickey, said with a laugh, "Now we can call our daddy ‘Father’… or our father ‘Father.’"

Archbishop Mansell expressed his gratitude to the families during his homily, and reflected upon the "extremely talented" new priests who are called "not to be served but to serve" as Jesus Christ, and "to seek out that which was lost."

"You as priests are at the heart of the Church’s call to love," he said. "By word and example, build up God’s Church" in fulfilling the duties of a priest by attending "not to your concerns but to those of Jesus Christ," he said.

The Archbishop announced that for their first parish assignments, Father Cretella will serve at Corpus Christi in Wethersfield; Father Echavarria, at the Torrington cluster of parishes; Father Hickey, at St. Paul/St. Augustine in Glastonbury; Father Kos, at St. Rita in Hamden; and Father Pahl, at Holy Family in Enfield.

The solemn occasion was marked by great celebration, applause, majestic music and a procession of more than 130 priests and deacons, reflecting the joy of Catholic faithful who came to give thanks to God for the gift of the newly ordained. Also in attendance were about 30 seminarians from three local seminaries.

People crowded into the cathedral to celebrate the day, including four busloads of parishioners from St. Matthew Parish in Forestville, where Father Pahl served as deacon; another 300-400 parishioners from North Branford, where Father Echavarria had served at St. Augustine; several parishioners from Father Hickey’s home parish in Florida; a large contingent from Most Holy Trinity Parish in Wallingford, where Father Cretella served as deacon; and even a group of 42 pilgrims from Father Kos’s home parish in Zywiec, Poland.

"It’s just awesome," said the newly ordained Father Cretella. "I’m 71, and I’m continuing to serve God as best I can. I’m thrilled.

Al and Marjorie Cook, friends since college, came from North Carolina for his ordination. "We wouldn’t miss this," she said. "It’s incredible, but it’s not surprising. He’s been a deacon most of his life … since before it was popular. He’s a very holy person, so for us to be here is very meaningful."

Speaking through an interpreter, Father Echavarria’s sister, Angela, who attended the ordination from Colombia, said, "This is very special day that is very difficult to explain…one that we will never forget in our lives." They have seven other siblings.

"Everything is wonderful," he said. "It’s very uplifting for me because after nine years, I can now enjoy the priesthood. There are no words for this gift God has given me; but I will take it with his blessing and give it to those people God gives to me."

"Beyond description" was the term Father Hickey used for the day. "There’s a joy and an anticipation and an excitement. But I think the essence of it is in the faces of the people. They know they need a priest. Why would they be congratulating us if they didn’t understand what a priest can do for them? We can go to heaven for them and bring the blessings of heaven and of Christ to them."

Karen Jensen, a friend from St. Petersburg, Fla., who flew up for the ordination, said that for Father Hickey, "it’s always been just about God. He’s so happy. I remember when he entered formation, it was hard for him to control his happiness. It was when he found the Catholic Church that he found where he was meant to be."

Father Kos’s mother and father, Urszula and Aleksander Kos, came from Poland, along with his sister, Beata, her husband and two children, as well as his mother’s sister and her husband who is his godfather. His brother, Miroslaw, who lives in Spain, was unable to attend. Friends from Michigan where he attended SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake also came for the ordination.

"I’m so excited," said Father Kos. "I still cannot believe I’m here becoming a priest. This is the biggest gift I’ve received in my life. I cannot express how happy I am because God is much greater than us. We cannot define him. Therefore, it is not my priesthood. It is his priesthood that he shares with me."

Speaking through an interpreter, his mother, who wept through most of the ceremony, said, "It’s just beautiful, very heartfelt. I’m very impressed and very happy to be here."

Father Pahl, who was cheered on by busloads of people from his home parish, said, "My mind is overwhelmed."

His second cousin, Judy Dauphinais, who came from California, said that she was not surprised by his decision to become a priest. "He was ordained [to the diaconate] 29 years ago, and has been on this path a long time."

Added his godmother, Ruth Dauphinais, 92 of Bristol, "He’s my godchild. I’m just very proud of him."

Principal concelebrants for the Mass were Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop Emeritus of Hartford; and Auxiliary Bishops Peter A. Rosazza and Christie A. Macaluso.