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Cordonnier to be ordained a priest Dec. 27

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Deacon Andrew Cordonnier.

By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph 

Deacon Andrew Cordonnier was surprised to feel God calling him to the priesthood — but he was the only one.

The 28-year-old native of Russia, Ohio will be ordained to the priesthood at 11 a.m. Dec. 27 at St. Remy Church in Russia, Ohio, but just a decade ago he had a girlfriend and a fine job as a machinist. 

Cordonnier generally enjoyed the work but one day as his mind began to wander, he felt he should be doing something different with his life.

“I remember thinking very clearly, well, what about the priesthood? Which sort of came out of the blue because I’d considered it when I was very young, but since then I’d not considered it,” Deacon Cordonnier said. “I went home and I went before the Blessed Sacrament and I asked the Lord, ‘I’m at a crossroads here. What do I do?’

“I heard very clearly, the Lord said to me, I want you to be a priest,” he said. “It was a very intelligible voice in my head, it was not my voice.”

Deacon Cordonnier said he tried giving God other options. Then just 18-years-old, he said he’d be willing to be an astronaut, archeologist, teacher or really anything else, but God’s voice was insistent and he heard again, “I want you to be a priest.”

“I was going with a girl at that time and I told her about it and she was not surprised at all about it, which kind of surprised me,” Deacon Cordonnier said. “She actually encouraged me to go pursue this because she had sensed some unhappiness in that regard. With that I told my parents, and they weren’t surprised either, which kind of shocked me because I didn’t see it in myself.”

Deacon Cordonnier’s parents, Eugene and Victoria, raised Andrew as the youngest of five children (Matthew, Michael, Joseph and Lisa) in a strong Catholic family.

“As I got to be a teenager I didn’t want to go to Mass, but my parents would have none of it,” Deacon Cordonnier said. “It didn’t really stem from not wanting to go to Mass as much as not wanting to go to the early Mass. It was a strong Catholic upbringing.”

Deacon Cordonnier’s parents also enrolled him as an altar server, which has helped him to partly overcome his fear of being in front of crowds.

Looking back, Deacon Cordonnier said he may have felt an initial attraction to the priesthood as early as his first Holy Communion. He felt a love for the Eucharist, and while he didn’t understand the dynamics, he knew the priest had a special role. Later, at a school job fair after confirmation, he wrote on a piece of paper that he would be either a machinist or a priest, eventually choosing the path of machinist.

After beginning his discernment, Deacon Cordonnier went on to study for four years at the Pontifical COllege Josephenum in Columbus, Ohio for four years before coming to Mount St. Mary’s in Mount Washington for the next five. He was ordained a deacon in April of 2013 and since April 2014 he has served as a deacon at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Western Hills.

Deacon Cordonnier is 28 and will be the youngest man ordained as a priest for this archdiocese since Father Shawn Landenwitch was ordained at 26 in 2009. His ordination also has the uniqueness of taking place at St. Remy, rather than at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati.

The time and place of ordinations in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is at the discretion of Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr. The historic church, built in 1890, seats about 300 and is Deacon Cordonnier’s home parish.

“The Archbishop and I discussed it. I proposed we do it at my home parish, which he was very open to,” Deacon Cordonnier said. “Having it there, while not a precedent, will be exceptionally special for the people who participate in it.”

Ordinations taking place in home parishes are not the norm, but they aren’t unheard of. Archbishop Schnurr, for example, also became a priest in a solo ordination at his home parish of St. Anthony in Hospers, Iowa in 1974.

“It is very special to me of course,” Deacon Cordonnier added. “I received first Holy Communion there, I was Confirmed there and now I’ll be ordained a priest there. It is something I think will be very special for the parish to see and something very special for me as well on a personal level. At the same time, I want to make sure that it is not all about me. This is about the sacrament, it is about the church.”

Deacon Cordonnier said being ordained in his home parish is a way to say thank you to the faith community that has always supported him.

“It cannot be discounted that to get through seminary you really require a lot of help from a lot of people,” he said. “Tons of prayers, tons of just emotional and personal support. From that perspective, this is my way of giving thanks to the people for aiding me in nine years of seminary because it really  has taken an army in that sense.

“I’ve spent many a day, especially on the really hard days in seminary, dreaming about Dec. 27, dreaming about my ordination and first Mass,” he added. “I really think that whatever I’ve dreamt, the actual day will far exceed what I expect. I think it is just going to be absolutely overwhelming. I’ll be surprised if I’m not an emotional wreck that day.”

Deacon Cordonnier’s first Mass of Thanksgiving will take place the following day, Dec. 28, at St. Remy at 3 p.m.

Posted Dec. 19, 2014

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