|Fathers Daniel Steiner and Rodolfo Rivera lie prostrate before the altar of the Cathedral of the Incarnation during the Litany of Supplication. Bishop David Choby, below, lays his hands upon the head of Father Steiner during the ordination rite. Photos by Rick Musacchio|
Lying prostrate before the altar of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, the prayers of the hundreds of people in the pews singing the Litany of Supplication washed over Fathers Rodolfo Rivera and Daniel Steiner.
“To be able to experience the affection when you prostrate yourself, the feeling of the entire church praying for you” was one of the highlights of his priestly ordination, said Father Rivera.
Bishop David Choby ordained the two newest priests for the Diocese of Nashville on Friday, June 3. “This is a day of great joy for everyone in the Diocese of Nashville,” said Bishop Choby, who thanked the families of the two men. “In many ways you have contributed to the men they are, who have so generously given of themselves” to serve the people of the diocese.
“We gather in a sense of gratitude for the way God has been at work in the lives of these two candidates,” Bishop Choby said during his homily.
Father Steiner was born and raised in Illinois. He came to the Diocese of Nashville two years ago after starting his seminary studies at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as a seminarian for the Diocese of Peoria.
|Father Matthew Perumpally, pastor of St. Christopher Church in Dickson, vests Father Daniel Steiner during the ordination Mass. Father Steiner spent two summers at St. Christopher as a seminarian. In the background, Father Fernando Lopez, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, vests Father Rivera, who is the first parishioner from Guadalupe to be ordained a priest.|
“I can’t even explain the emotions, the feeling, especially because it’s been eight years” of study in the seminary, Father Steiner said during a reception after the ordination Mass. “This last week there was such a great peace, a reassurance for all the people praying for me. It’s a little overwhelming, just that generosity of people.”
Among those praying for him was Dan Schachle, a parishioner at St. Christopher Church in Dickson, where Father Steiner spent the last two summers. “I find him to be just a guy I can easily relate to. Very down to earth, a great sense of humor,” said Schachle.
The friendship between Father Steiner and Schachle and his wife, Michelle, the parents of 13 children, grew over frequent dinners with the Schachle family. Father Steiner himself has a large family and its something he shared with the Schachles. “He loves children. All my children fell in love with him,”
When the Schachles’ youngest son, Michael, was baptized a year ago, Father Steiner, then a transitional deacon, presided at the baptism and served as his godfather.
Father Steiner’s ability to connect with the parishioners of St. Christopher was also praised by Father Matthew Perumpally, the parish’s pastor, who vested Father Steiner during the ordination. “He’s been very pastoral, reaching out to the people,” Father Perumpally said.
Father Steiner is “very humble, down to earth and very practical, filled with common sense,” Father Perumpally said. “Very prayerful and very serious about the vocation of the priesthood.”
|Father Edwige Carre, pastor of St. Ann Church in Nashville, hugs Father Rivera with a sign of peace as Father Michael Fye awaits his turn.|
Father Rivera received similar praise from Father Fernando Lopez, his pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Nashville and the priest who vested him during the ordination.
“He’s a good human being. He’s got great human qualities. That will be a great service to his ministry,” Father Lopez said of Father Rivera, who was a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe before he became a seminarian for the diocese.
Father Rivera is the first parishioner from Our Lady of Guadalupe, which serves a Spanish-speaking congregation, to be ordained a priest.
“I’m excited,” Father Lopez said. “It’s a big blessing from God for our community. It’s a good motive to give thanks to God that he seeks one of us for the priesthood.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners attended the ordination in force. Father Lopez, who had invited the entire parish to attend, estimated as many as 500 were in the Cathedral.
“I wasn’t really surprised because I know the affection the people have provided,” Father Rivera said of the support from his fellow Guadalupe parishioners.
Father Rivera celebrated his first Mass on Saturday, June 4, at Our Lady of Guadalupe. “I’m very nervous and very excited. It’s a mix of emotions,” Father Rivera said of the prospect of celebrating his first Mass. It was gratifying to celebrate Mass before his friends at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Father Rivera said. “To the people who have seen me grow … I’m very excited that they will witness my first Mass,” he said.
With his ordination as a priest, Father Rivera reached an important moment in his life. “I cannot believe this journey of faith and formation has concluded to an outstanding degree, but I know what is coming is service that I’m very excited about,” Father Rivera said. “I’m happy there are no more classes for me, just service.”
|Father Rivera, above photo, blesses Sister Mary Celeste D’Souza, O.P. Family, friends and parishioners waited in line to receive a blessing from the new priests.|
Father Rivera is looking forward to the opportunity to help others as a priest. “I’m a listener,” Father Rivera said. “I like to be the listener, help them out, be an example, and to help them to mutually grow together.”
Among the priests and deacons who processed into the church with Fathers Steiner and Rivera, was Father Steiner’s father, Deacon Bruce Steiner, a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Peoria.
“I’m still flying high. What a gift,” Deacon Steiner said after the ordination Mass. Watching his son be ordained as a priest was “phenomenal,” he said. “Words can’t really describe it. I feel so blessed.”
“He’s very loving and compassionate,” Deacon Steiner said of his son. “What touched my heart deeply,” he added, “anywhere Danny was stationed or was, people from that church or area came to see him today.”
|Dionisio Raymundo kneels for a blessing from newly ordained Father Steiner during a reception in the Fleming Center at the Cathedral.|
Her son’s decision to become a priest was a surprise to Father Steiner’s mother, Carol Steiner. “He had been looking for his soul mate,” she said. “His brother, Michael, said, ‘You ever think your soul mate is the Church?’”
It was several trips to Haiti on medical missions that awakened thoughts of becoming a priest for his son, Deacon Steiner said. “That’s what brought it out of him.”
Watching her son be ordained a priest brought on a mix of emotions, leaving her a bit numb, Mrs. Steiner said. “It’s been a long eight years, and it’s been short at the same time. It’s good to see Dan so happy.”
Father Steiner returned to St. Christopher the weekend after his ordination to celebrate his first Masses. He planned to take that opportunity to thank his parents “for two great gifts: one the gift of life and two our faith,” he said.
“My brother has had a big impact on me as well,” Father Steiner added. “God spoke through him.”
Now that he is a priest, Father Steiner said, he is looking forward to performing the Sacrament of Reconciliation, particularly during this Year of Mercy. “My brother priests have told me it’s amazing to see God enter into the lives” of people, he said.
As a priest, he will be able to be part of people’s lives in unique ways, Father Steiner said. Bishop Choby made the same point during his remarks at the end of the ordination Mass. “I often tell the seminarians of the diocese how much contentment, joy and fulfillment comes out of our service to you,” the bishop said.
Father Steiner is looking forward to returning to his home parish in Illinois to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for his family and friends there. “It will be a great way to thank them, so then can see the fruit of their prayers, and return their prayers with my own for them.”