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First Mass of Fathers Craig Best and Jacob Willig

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Pentecost Sunday, May 20 this year, is known as the birthday of the church. In honor of the occasion, “The Catholic Telegraph” covered the first Masses of Thanksgiving celebrated by Fathers Craig Best and Jacob Willig.

Father Best’s Mass of Thanksgiving was held at St. Margaret-St. John Church in Fairfax, a suburb of Cincinnati’s east side. Fathers Jamie Weber, Jason Williams, and David Sunberg concelebrated. Father Sunberg, Father Best’s spiritual director during his final two years in the seminary, gave the homily. Deacons Robert Barnell and Kyle Gase, classmates from the seminary who will be ordained next weekend for other dioceses, served as deacons.

Father Willig’s Mass was held at St. Antoninus Church on the west side of Cincinnati. Fathers Anthony Brausch, Cyrus Haddad, Zachary Edgar, Gregory Carl, Ronald Haft, and John McQuarrie concelebrated. Father Brausch, the new president/rector of the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, gave the homily. Deacon Scott Perry, who will be ordained next weekend for the Diocese of Toledo, and Deacon Ambrose Dobroszi served as deacons.

Fathers Best and Willig each presented their mothers a traditional gift near the closing of the Mass — a maniturgium, a linen cloth used to wrap a newly ordained priest’s hands after he is anointed. The cloth is given to the mother because she was the first protector of the ordinand during his time in her womb. According to tradition, when the priest’s mother passes away, she is buried holding the maniturgium so that all in heaven and on earth will know that she is the mother of a priest. And on the last day when we are raised from the dead, she can present the Maniturgium to Christ the Lord and say, “My son, too, shared in Your priesthood.”

Father Willig presented his father his first confessional stole. The stole is the sign of priestly office, and the priest wears it when he engages in holy things, such celebrating the holy Eucharist and the sacrament of penance. It was the father of the newly ordained priest who first taught him about justice and mercy. When a priest’s father dies, he is buried holding the purple stole so that all in heaven and on earth will know that he was the father of a priest. And, on the last day when we are raised from the dead, he can present the purple stole to Christ the Lord and say, “My son, too, shared in Your priesthood.”

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