Bishop ordains Father Coffas - Catholic Courier

Bishop ordains Father Coffas

ROCHESTER – As Bishop Matthew H. Clark asked Father William Coffas the first of several questions in the examination part of his priestly ordination, Father Coffas blurted out a premature “I do.”

“I took that as a sign of eagerness,” Father Coffas later remarked.
Eagerness to join the ranks of the approximately 75 diocesan and extern priests who were on hand June 12. Eagerness to elate the many friends and family members who nearly filled the spacious St. Ambrose Church. Apparently he succeeded, based on the long line of smiling people who waited several minutes after Mass to offer their congratulations.

Father Coffas was the only diocesan priest to be ordained this year. This ordination also carried special meaning because it took place in his home parish -ordinations are normally conducted at Sacred Heart Cathedral, but the cathedral is currently unavailable due to ongoing renovation work. Father Coffas said he was more than happy to be in such familiar surroundings.

“It was like a total homecoming,” he said.

“A lot of people thought we would be disappointed because the cathedral wasn’t ready, but we were just thrilled. He received all his sacraments here,” added Father Coffas’ mother, Caroline, who sat next to him in the front pew during Mass. They were surrounded by several rows full of relatives.

The Mass featured powerful music by the Diocesan Festival Choir. Bishop Clark gave the homily, comparing Father Coffas’ new priestly ministry with the road to Emmaus that served as that day’s Gospel reading.

“We have a new Emmaus story here today,” Bishop Clark said, noting that Father Coffas, just like the early apostles, is embarking upon a new journey that “could all seem overwhelming to him now.” However, the bishop told the congregation, “Even when he tires, people like you will give him strength.”
Bishop Clark pointed out that 94-year-old Father Elmer Heindl, a retired diocesan priest, was in attendance. He then acknowledged the entire group of priests, describing them as “all these wonderful men between Bill (Coffas) and Elmer, who give of themselves lovingly day in and day out.” The bishop called the priesthood “very beautiful, tremendously rich and tremendously life-giving,” predicting that Father Coffas will have the same experience.

Father Coffas received a standing ovation as he was called and presented at the beginning of Mass. Applause again sounded – mainly from the priests – upon his exit from the church. From there, many of the well-wishers asked for a blessing from the new priest -and he willingly obliged each request as the noontime sun shone brightly.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Father Coffas said.

Despite all the hoopla surrounding the event, Father Coffas said he felt calm compared to his ordination as a transitional deacon one year earlier in Washington, D.C. “I was much more relaxed and just really enjoyed it, that it took place in this diocese,” he explained.

Father Coffas was due to celebrate his Mass of Thanksgiving during the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Ambrose Sunday, June 13. He’s then off to the Southern Tier, where he will begin June 29 as priest intern in Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in the Tioga County area.

“Seven years of formation, and an hour-and-a-half of ordination,” he remarked. “The rite is done, but the formation continues.”

Also continuing are the good feelings he has generated in his diocese, parish and family.

“I’m very proud, very humble,” Caroline Coffas commented. “I never thought (our family) would produce a priest.”

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