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Ordination 2021

Pictured are (left to right): Father Shawn Aaron, LC, Father Miguel Colunga-Santoyo, Father Russell Ward, LC, Father Mark Martin, Father John Whitlock, Bishop Earl Boyea


Ordination 2021

 

THE DIOCESE OF LANSING was blessed with two new priests on June 12. Bishop Earl Boyea ordained Mark Martin II and Miguel Colunga-Santoyo to the priesthood at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in East Lansing. Bishop Boyea also ordained Russell Ward to the religious congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

 

In the following story, meet our newest priests and enjoy photos of their ordination. 

FATHER MARK MARTIN converted to Catholicism toward the end of high school, and has been a parishioner at St. Anthony of Padua in Hillsdale since. He is assigned to St. Gerard Parish in Lansing.

Q. What advice do you have for discerning a vocation?
My advice is rather simple. Stay close to Jesus, ask him what his will is for you and pay attention to the desires that arise in your own heart. I think this last step is often the one that can be lacking. We look for a lightning bolt from the sky, when God is speaking to us from within.

Q. What has seminarian life been like for you?
As seminarians, we are blessed to have the opportunity for extended periods of prayer, and this has led to the greatest blessing of my seminary time – growing closer to Jesus. A close second blessing is the fraternity that we share as brother seminarians. Learning the truths of theology and seeing how all these truths beautifully hang together is likewise another blessing.

Q. What led you to answer God’s call to become a priest?
At first, it was the Lord’s persistence, in spite of my own stubbornness! Eventually, I had a powerful confession where I felt the Lord tell me: “That could be you wearing that violet stole,” by which he meant that I could someday hear confessions as a priest and share in an extraordinary way in this ministry of reconciliation. That was a turning point for me in my own discernment.

Q. What message would you pass along to those who want to serve God, but do not know how?
I’d say to begin by serving God in what he has placed before you. If you are married, for example, living out your marital vocation by being faithful to your spouse and to your children is itself a service to God. After that, I’d encourage you to try your best to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Pray every day. Read the Scriptures daily, and if you don’t know where to start, Matthew’s Gospel is a good place! Avail yourself of the sacraments, especially through a frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of confession. Then, see how God is drawing you in your heart to serve him. Such service often begins with the people around us: our neighbors, our family, our friends, our extended family. We all need Jesus, and there is no greater service than to proclaim to those around us that Jesus Christ alone is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and that “no one comes to the Father except through [him].” (Jn 14:6) 


FATHER MIGUEL COLUNGA-SANTOYO was born and raised in East Lansing, and has been a parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas/St. John Student Center. He is assigned to St. Patrick Parish in Brighton.

Q. What message would you pass along to those who want to serve God, but do not know how?
Begin by striving to love God above all things and to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the fulfillment of the whole law of God! It also aims at the fulfillment of everyone’s vocation in life: holiness. For to be holy is to be like God, and God is the perfection of love. Big task! So how do we live out this life of love? Focus first on developing a regular prayer life. For in prayer we both receive God’s love and grow in God’s love.

Q. What led you to answer God’s call to become a priest?
During my freshman year of high school, God led me through a profound conversion experience at a parish youth retreat. Not only did that retreat set me on fire for the faith, but it allowed me to become more receptive to hearing God’s call. From that point on, the thought of the priesthood captivated me, and I found myself repeating the same question in my heart: “Is God calling me to be a priest?”

Q. What has seminarian life been like for you?
A true adventure! It has been filled with an immense amount of joy as I encountered the Lord's love for me and have received so many blessings and healings from him through the prayer life of the seminary.

Q. What advice do you have for discerning a vocation?
Never let your fears or feelings of weakness or inadequacy prevent you from following the Lord, especially if you hear him calling you! For when Jesus called his disciple Matthew to follow him, Matthew rose and followed him. (Mt 9:9) Notice that Matthew did not stop to look at his own fears and inadequacies and decide whether to follow Jesus or not. Rather, he simply rose and followed him. Remember, too, that Jesus, being God, also knew who he was calling: a person who was broken, imperfect and a sinner. Yet, that did not stop Jesus either! So if you hear God tugging at your heart to follow him, rise and follow him without hesitation or delay! 


FATHER RUSSELL WARD belongs to the religious congregation of the Legionaries of Christ. The Legionaries were founded in 1941 and are dedicated to forming Catholics into engaged apostles who transform both their own hearts and society through the Gospel. As a member of this congregation, Father Ward will complete his master’s degree in theological studies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and then teach moral theology.

Q. How did you know you were called to the priesthood?
When I was 13 years old, I had a very deep experience of the love of Christ during a moment of prayer before our Lord in the Eucharist. At that moment, I simply knew deep in my heart that I was being called to live for Christ and spread this love to others.

Q. Why did you choose to be ordained in the Diocese of Lansing?
Typically, all Legionaries of Christ are ordained in Rome. That was the plan for me, too, and the date was set for April 24, 2021. However, as you can imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic made this impossible. My natural place to turn was my home diocese, since I am from Swartz Creek. Bishop Boyea graciously accepted to ordain me, and I was included with the other two deacons from the diocese. This is a great honor for me, and I am sure it is a work of God’s providence that has brought me home for such a special occasion.

Q. How did you choose the Legion of Christ over other religious orders and diocesan priesthood?
Growing up, my mom was involved with the movement Regnum Christi, which comprises the Legionaries of Christ. So I had a great deal of contact with the Legionary priests from a young age and participated in many of their activities. When I first felt the call from Our Lord to be a priest, to be a Legionary of Christ was the first way that came to my heart. Over the years, of course, I had many opportunities to discern this call in more depth, but I have always felt at home in this congregation and as part of this community.


Religious Order Priests and Brothers

A consecrated religious brother is a man who commits to sharing in the work of a specific religious order. He takes solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the superior of the order. Religious brothers live in community, working together in a specific apostolate (evangelistic or charitable work), and share a distinct spirituality and charism (gift of grace given by the Holy Spirit). Some religious orders have charisms of external work to serve the wider Church, while others live in cloistered communities for the work of prayer.

A religious priest is a member of a religious order who is ordained to the priesthood. He vows obedience to the superior of the order and continues to live according to the rules of the community.

Religious priests and brothers may be given permission (exclaustration) to serve outside their order for specific lengths of time. They are normally not connected to a diocese, but may serve a diocese with the permission of their order.


Interested in priesthood? 

Contact Father John Whitlock at jwhitlock@dioceseoflansing.org

Photography By Tom Gennara

 

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