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JUNE 9, 2017

THE CATHOLIC WEEK

PAGE 9

By ROBHERBST

The Catholic Week

MOBILE — It was natural

for now-Fr. Nicholas Napoli-

tano to be nervous in the hours

leading up to his priestly Ordi-

nation Mass on June 3 at the

Cathedral-Basilica of the Im-

maculate Conception.

But in an instant as he lay

prostrate and the Litany of the

Saints was sung, nerves trans-

formed to peace.

“I was lying during the Lita-

ny of the Saints and I realized I

was completely as peace – there

were no butterflies in the stom-

ach, no nothing. I was just there.

It just kind of hit me.

“There’s a sense of belonging

and I feel completely comfort-

able in my skin. It’s an amazing

grace. I feel like I’m finally doing

what I was created to do.”

Along with Fr. Napolitano,

the Archdiocese of Mobile

celebrated the ordination of

Deacons Andrew Jones, Joseph

O’Gorman and Gilbert Pierre

to the transitional diaconate.

The Ordination Mass on a

rainy Saturday morning was

in one sense eight years in the

making as Fr. Napolitano had

been in seminary since graduat-

ing from McGill-Toolen Cath-

olic High School, but in another

sense it’s been a much longer

journey.

Fr. Napolitano’s dad, Jim Na-

politano, explained that a calling

to the priesthood was spotted

as the Napolitano family was

living in the New Orleans area

when Fr. Napolitano was a sec-

ond-grader.

“(Msgr. Robert Massett) was

at St. Mary Magdalen (in Me-

tairie, La.) and said ‘when I look

into Nicholas’eyes, I see a priest.’

And I said really what do you

see? He said ‘I can see it in his

heart he’ll be a priest.’”

And Fr. Napolitano’s reac-

tion as a second-grader when he

heard Msgr. Massett’s remarks?

“I remember that very clearly

and I rolled my eyes at him.”

The Napolitano family even-

tually moved to Daphne and

were members of Christ the

King Parish. According to Fr.

Napolitano, former Christ the

King Parish Pastor, Fr. Timothy

Deasy, saw the same thing as

Msgr. Massett when Fr. Napoli-

tano was an eighth-grader.

Fr. Napolitano said Fr. Deasy

got the same eye-roll treatment

as Msgr. Massett. But Fr. Deasy,

who passed away last year, is still

with Fr. Napolitano.

“One of the things I was giv-

en by (Christ the King Parish)

was one of Fr. Deasy’s confes-

sional stoles as a Christmas gift

in preparation for ordination,”

Fr. Napolitano said. “I feel like

I’m following Fr. Deasy’s foot-

steps a little bit in confession.”

Fr. Napolitano’s thoughts

about the priesthood changed

during his sophomore year in

high school.

“God hit me over the head

with a 2x4,” Fr. Napolitano

deadpanned.

Jim Napolitano explained:

“When he got to McGill, he

wanted to be an engineer. In his

sophomore year, he came up to

my wife and I and said ‘I don’t

really want to be an engineer

anymore.’ I said ‘OK, whatever

you want to be, be the best you

can be.’

“Sure enough, he says I want

to be a Catholic priest. … It’s

amazing to see his journey and

how much he truly wanted to

be a Catholic priest.This is what

he wants. And for us to see your

child that happy, that is a joy for

us.”

Readings chosen for the

Mass were 1 Kings 19:11-13a;

Romans 8:35, 37-39; and Luke

5:1-11.

In his homily, Archbishop

Thomas J. Rodi explained that

Fr. Napolitano and Deacons

Jones, O’Gorman and Pierre will

celebrate many joyful times. But

there will inevitably be struggles.

“There will also be times

when you, as did Elijah, may

want to flee from your ministry

and tell God this is too much,”

Archbishop Rodi said. “In those

times the message from God to

you will be the same as the mes-

sage to Elijah. Go back. Renew

the faith of your people.”

After being ordained, Fr.

Napolitano celebrated his first

Mass on June 4 at Christ the

King.

He has been assigned to St.

Bede the Venerable Parish in

Montgomery beginning July 1.

With that assignment, Fr.

Napolitano’s path has seemingly

come full circle. St. Bede Pastor

Fr. Alejandro Valladares was the

archdiocese’s vocation director

when Fr. Napolitano decided to

discern a call to the priesthood.

“He taught me in high

school, he was vocation direc-

tor when I answered and he’s

always been a priest I’ve looked

up to and had a great relation-

ship with,” Fr. Napolitano said.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more

fitting pastor.”

Deacons Jones, O’Gorman

and Pierre will hold summer as-

signments before returning for

their final year at St. Meinrad

Seminary and School of Theol-

ogy in the hopes they’ll be or-

dained priests next year.

And according to Fr. Na-

politano, next year could be here

before the newly-ordained tran-

sitional deacons know it.

“(The last year) was like a

lightning strike. It was over be-

fore I knew it.”

Photo by Melinda Mercer

/melindamercer.com

Fr. Nicholas Napolitano and Deacons Andrew Jones, Joseph O’Gorman and Gilbert Pierre lie prostrate during the Ordination Mass on June 3 at Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate

Conception.

‘Doing what I’m created to do’

Archdiocese of Mobile welcomes Fr. Napolitano, Deacons Jones, O’Gorman, Pierre

On the front:

Newly-ordained Fr. Nicholas Napolitano blesses Archbishop

Thomas J. Rodi on Saturday, June 3 during the Ordination Mass

at Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile.

Photo by Melinda Mercer

www.melindamercer.com