ORDINATIONS - Four men will be ordained priests for the Diocese of Lincoln May 29. They are (front, from left) Patrick Barvick, Matthew Rolling, (back) Steve Thomlinson and Kenneth Wehrs. (SNR photo by S.L. Hansen)
LINCOLN (SNR) - On Saturday, May 29, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz will ordain four men as priests of the Diocese of Lincoln. The ordination Mass will begin at 11 a.m. at Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., Patrick Barvick attended Our Lady of Sorrows Parish with his parents, Gary and Anna Marie Barvick, two older sisters and two younger brothers.
“I used to play Mass when I was younger,” Deacon Barvick recalled, “But then I forgot about becoming a priest for a while and wanted to be a doctor.”
When he was 15, his desire for a priestly vocation returned. A priest from Kansas City, Msgr. William Blacet, encouraged Deacon Barvick to become a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln. So, after earning his high school diploma through home schooling, he immediately enrolled in St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward.
Eight years later, Deacon Barvick finds it a little hard to believe that his years of formation are coming to an end and he is finally realizing his goal of the priesthood.
“I’ve been around priests my whole life but it’s still hard to know what it’s going to be like until I actually begin living the life of a priest,” he said. “I’m looking forward to putting into practice everything I’ve learned… It’s exciting.”
He is eager to accept his first assignment. “I just hope to bring some enthusiasm and to help the pastor with whatever he needs.”
Deacon Matthew Rolling grew up in Bellevue, attending St. Mary Parish. His parents, Richard and Susan Rolling, also have two other sons and one daughter.
After graduating from Bellevue East High School, Deacon Rolling was completing his bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) when he attended a Koinonia retreat. He realized he had a vocation to the priesthood and sought spiritual direction from Father Brian Kane.
Now that he is about to be ordained, Deacon Rolling said he feels, “Relief, joy, and a certain sorrow at having to leave brothers whom I have grown close to [at the seminary].”
As he happily anticipates the opportunities to celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and to hear confessions, Deacon Rolling manages any apprehension by reminding himself of the words of Christ, “Do not be afraid.”
“John Paul II’s constant reiteration of and frequent reflection on our Lord’s words has helped me to understand in a profound way that I need not be afraid, or even apprehensive even in spite of my own weaknesses,” he explained.
He intends to approach his first assignment with, “a certain joy, freshness and youthful energy to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is ‘ever ancient, ever new.’”
Steve Thomlison is the son of Steve Thomlison of Gering and Shirley Huss of Kearney. He has three sisters, one stepbrother and three stepsisters. Deacon Thomlison is a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Lincoln. His mother and stepfather, Ron, are members of Prince of Peace Parish in Kearney.
While studying education at UNL, Deacon Thomlison was a member of the Lutheran church. A Lutheran army chaplain helped him see his calling to the ministry.
Deacon Thomlison soon converted to the Catholic faith. Several priests were instrumental in his continuing discernment process: Msgr. Raymond Hain and Fathers Dave Arnoldt (military chaplain), Gary Gross, Brian Kane, Sean Kilcawley, and Robert Matya.
Once ordained, Deacon Thomlison will become the only Army National Guard priest in the State of Nebraska. He has a great devotion to Our Lady, a strong love for Christ and a deep love for families to share with his parishioners. Deacon Thomlison expressed a great deal of gratitude toward the bishop, his pastor and “the many Serrans and Knights who have been so generous” in supporting his formation.
“Being able to celebrate the Sacraments and journey together toward the Sacred Heart of Christ with parish and military families is going to be a tremendous privilege,” he said.
As a second-grader, Deacon Kenneth Wehrs turned a few heads at Milford Public School when he dressed as a priest for career day. (His hometown is predominantly Mennonite.)
Deacon Wehrs’ family, including his parents, Terry and Lori, four more brothers and two sisters, belonged to Seward’s St. Vincent DePaul parish. There, Msgr. Clarence Reisdorff, Father (now Bishop) Thomas Olmsted, and other pastors influenced Deacon Wehrs’ discernment.
After graduating from high school and earning an associate’s degree from Southeast Community College, Deacon Wehrs took a job at St. Gregory the Great Seminary. Four years later, he enrolled. He continued to discern his vocation with the help of Msgr. John Folda, Father Robert Matya and Father John Rooney.
“I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” he said. “I am thankful for all of the blessings God has given me. I am also thankful for all who have helped me through these last seven years, especially my family and friends.”
Though the prospect of meeting his parishioner’s needs (and remembering all their names) gives him pause, Deacon Wehrs is ready to serve.
“I hope to draw others to Christ so that they may grow in holiness and come to know Him and His church more deeply.”
All are welcome to attend the ordination Mass at Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln. A reception will follow.