Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - On Saturday, May 23, the Diocese of Lincoln will gain eight new priests. Bishop James D. Conley will ordain Deacon Justin Fulton, Deacon Stephen Graeve, Deacon Corey Harrison, Deacon Ryan Kaup, Deacon Denton Morris, Deacon Cyrus Rowan, Deacon Ryan Salisbury and Deacon Christopher Stoley at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ, 3500 Sheridan Blvd., Lincoln.
Deacon Justin Fulton
As he prepares to celebrate his first Mass at North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln May 24 at 1 p.m., Deacon Justin Fulton said, “I look forward to serving the Lord... bringing His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity to the people and being an instrument of mercy and healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”
The Auburn native is the son of Bob and Lucy Fulton, who raised him in Saint Joseph Parish. His interests include baseball, fishing, music and wild mushroom hunting. Deacon Fulton calls himself “just a regular guy who has answered His calling from God.”
He wants the people of the diocese to know that he and the other new priests are “very willing to learn from the people in the pews. We are yours…. Please help your priests by building relationships with them---and with our Lord.”
Deacon Stephen Graeve
Deacon Stephen Graeve, son of Bill and Jayne Graeve, will be the first priest ordained from Saint Peter Parish in Lincoln (the parish celebrated its 25th anniversary last fall). He will celebrate his first Mass there at 11:30 a.m. May 24.
He’s happy to be back in Nebraska, but he’ll take two more trips soon: One to see his beloved Kansas City Royals play, along with fellow fan Msgr. Joseph Nemec; another to attend his best friend’s priestly ordination for the Diocese of San Bernadino.
“It will be a great joy to lay hands on his head (after the bishop) and celebrate Mass with him for the first time!” Deacon Graeve exclaimed.
He encourages the people of the diocese to help the new priests learn parishioner names and to be patient.
“We’re still learning and bound to make mistakes, but just know that we are trying,” he said.
Deacon Corey Harrison
Deacon Corey Harrison’s first Mass will be at Wahoo’s St. Wenceslaus Parish May 24, at 5 p.m. His parents, Greg and Janet Harrison, raised him in Eagle and Saint Leo Parish in Palmyra.
Deacon Harrison is thankful to those who prayed for him during his priestly formation, especially his parents.
“It has been an incredible journey,” he said. “The priests at St. Teresa’s parish... Father Barak, my pastor at St. Leo’s for many years... Father Rayer, Father Menke, Father Faulkner, and Father Kosch... all were great examples to me.”
A self-described introvert, he welcomes opportunities to get to know parishioners and to perhaps find some who share his interests in classical music, camping, classic autos or skeet shooting.
“I am excited about getting settled into my parish assignment,” Deacon Harrison said. “I ask for forgiveness and patience as I learn this new role.”
Deacon Ryan Kaup
Deacon Ryan Kaup, son of Randall and Sherry Kaup, will celebrate his first Mass at 3 p.m. May 24 in his home parish, Blessed Sacrament in Lincoln.
“I’m humbled to celebrate the sacraments for the people of God,” he said. “It is time to get to work.”
Of course there’s a bit of apprehension mixed into that excitement.
“I’m sure there will be a learning curve,” he said. “We want to do our best to lead people to Christ, but we’re new at this.”
Deacon Kaup wants to be recognized as a “normal guy” who is living in the light of Luke 1:37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
He expressed his gratitude for the support of everyone in the diocese and at St. Gregory the Great and St. Charles Borromeo seminaries, which fueled his growing relationship with the Lord.
Deacon Denton Morris
Gary, South Dakota, native Denton Morris will celebrate his first Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Minden May 24 at 3 p.m. His parents are Barry and Robin Morris.
“The Lincoln Diocese has been a home for me since converting,” he said. He converted in 2003.
Deacon Morris said he was most grateful to “both of my rectors, faculties, staff, and seminary communities of the past eight years. All helped me grow closer to Christ.”
His schedule after ordination already includes a wedding: “I look forward to celebrating and receiving the vows for my brother and his fiance at their nuptial Mass,” he said.
Deacon Morris hopes for good interaction with the people of the diocese.
“Offering some encouragement and feedback would be a great way to help us new priests understand how we are impacting others,” he said.
Deacon Cyrus Rowan
Deacon Cyrus Rowan, son of Bill and Mary Rowan, will likewise return to his home parish, Saints Peter and Paul parish in Falls City, to celebrate his first Mass on May 24 at 4 p.m.
An avid reader and outdoorsman who is trying his hand at golf, Deacon Rowan said he is eager to serve the diocese through offering the Sacraments and teaching the faith.
“I look forward to being involved in parish and school activities,” he added.
Deacon Rowan is very grateful for all the support and prayers he received during the last six years. He further expressed gratitude to the priests who taught him at Sacred Heart High School, as well as all his seminary professors.
Deacon Rowan also asked for patience as he learns his new role.
“I am looking forward to serving as a priest wherever I go,” he said.
Deacon Ryan Salisbury
Hastings native Deacon Ryan Salisbury will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, Saint Cecilia, at 11 a.m. on May 24. His parents are Donna and the late Terry Salisbury.
Among everything he looks forward to, he said, “the biggest thing is probably being an instrument of God’s mercy, especially in confession, and helping people become aware of God’s love for each one of them.”
Deacon Salisbury recalled asking the Blessed Mother to guide him in his seminary studies.
He said, “After seven years I can say she helped in answering my prayer because of the excellent formation and witness of priestly zeal.”
Deacon Salisbury is generally quiet, but he admitted he can “unleash a torrent of random pop-culture knowledge on command.” He hopes to share his love of Christ - and the Huskers - with parishioners at his first assignment.
Deacon Christopher Stoley
Deacon Christopher Stoley will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, St. Teresa in Lincoln, at 2 p.m. on May 24. His parents are Mark and Margy Stoley.
He is awed by the magnitude of being able to hear confessions after ordination.
“There is something about being the vehicle for the forgiveness of sins and being able to give God’s love and mercy to others that is incredible and awesome, albeit humbling and daunting,” he said.
Among the many people he has to thank for helping him in his formation process, Deacon Stoley cited Bishop John Folda, who was rector of Saint Gregory the Great Seminary.
Deacon Stoley anticipates the need for “honest, constructive feedback” from parishioners as he takes on his first assignment.
“I won’t really know what I am doing, so any and all patience and feedback would be most appreciated!” he said.
The Mass of Ordination will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 23 at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.
Christopher Eckrich, Nathan Hall and Evan Winter will be ordained transitional deacons Friday, May 22 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral.
A fourth member of their class, James Morin, is attending the Pontifical North American College in Rome and will be ordained a transitional deacon in October.