Bishop to ordain Deacon Carpenter on June 6 - Catholic Courier

Bishop to ordain Deacon Carpenter on June 6

Not unlike a persistent salesperson, God peppered Brian Carpenter¬†with calls for many years without getting an affirmative reply. But when the time was finally right, Carpenter bought into the¬†opportunity God was offering — namely, a priestly vocation.

The deal will be closed, so to speak, when¬†the 33-year-old Indiana native — now Deacon Carpenter –¬†is¬†ordained as a priest of the Rochester Diocese by Bishop Matthew H. Clark on Saturday, June 6. The ordination liturgy will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Deacon Carpenter was born in South Bend, Ind., and also lived in Evansville, Ind., and Meadville, Pa., before moving to Rochester with his parents, Bob and Kathi; brother, Sean; and sister, Kim.

He¬†attended eighth grade at St. Joseph School in Penfield and then enrolled at McQuaid Jesuit High School, graduating¬†in 1994. In those days, he acknowledged, he wasn’t involved in church beyond attending Sunday Mass, as he attempted to suppress the message from God lurking deep inside of him.

“When you’re, like, a teenager and everything, that’s not the kind of call you want to have. You like going out with girls, and you’re feeling this call and you don’t want to talk about it with your friends because it’s not cool,” he remarked.

Yet shortly after Deacon Carpenter began college at the University of Notre Dame, his roommate predicted that he would one day become a priest.

“I was very upset that he picked up on it,” he recalled, laughing. “Gradually, I realized it’s not something to fight or be ashamed of.”

Deacon Carpenter explained that he had very much aspired to the priesthood all along, but that the steep commitment level involved had held him in check. After he began to attend on-campus discernment meetings, he took to heart the advice of a Holy Cross priest who suggested he relax and not take everything in at once.

“I think that was a turning point, that I didn’t have to make a final decision that second. And that’s the kind of advice I give. It’s impossible to do; it’s too much for anyone to handle,” he remarked.

Deacon Carpenter enjoyed campus life at Notre Dame, serving as a student manager for athletics and at one point working under legendary football Coach Lou Holtz. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in science business, with the intent of becoming a hospital administrator.

“My dad is a physician, and my goal was to be his boss,” he quipped.

After graduation he became a computer consultant, but found that “as I was in the corporate world, it was not helping me with my discernment.” He then logged a volunteer year at a New York City soup kitchen through the Vincentian Service Corps, and then began at Moreau Seminary back at Notre Dame in 2000-01.

Not yet quite ready for priestly life, Deacon Carpenter left the seminary during his novitiate and worked for the Catholic Network of Volunteer Services and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. He entered Becket Hall in January 2004 and has been on a straight path to the priesthood ever since, beginning in the fall of that year at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill.

Deacon Carpenter is now a familiar face around the Rochester Diocese, having spent the summer of 2004 at Webster’s St. Paul Parish, the summer of 2005 at Rochester’s Peace of Christ Parish and his pastoral year of 2006-07 at St. Mary Parish in Canandaigua. He also logged the summer of 2008 in Canandaigua following ordination as a transitional deacon last May 31.

Since becoming a deacon he has officiated a couple of baptisms — experiences that left him filled with awe about being a sacramental conduit between humans and God.

“I have affected reality; that person has now become the body of Christ forever. It’s a very humbling experience,” he said.

Deacon Carpenter is currently finishing up studies at Mundelein. He’s due to celebrate his first Mass the day after his ordination — on Sunday, June 7, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Mary in Canandaigua. From there he will begin a yet-to-be-determined assignment in the Rochester Diocese.

“There’s an excitement. You can’t wait to do the Mass, celebrate sacraments,” he said, although he admitted that having never heard a confession, he finds that prospect a bit daunting: “You have no idea who’s going to walk into the confessional, and you have to respond to it — ‘What penance do I give?’ There’s this kind of sense of awe — ‘Oh my goodness, this is real.'”

He added that he also enjoys teaching and hopes to someday be an instructor at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, St. John Fisher College or Nazareth College. At the parish level, “I love teaching the RCIA stuff, youth group,” he said. “I love preaching as well.”

All of those opportunities are right around the corner as priesthood awaits, but first Deacon Carpenter must focus on his ordination. He hopes that many people he’s never met will consider joining him, his family and his friends at the cathedral on June 6, stressing that the day’s emphasis should be not on him but celebrating the priesthood — especially for the sake of others in attendance who might be considering a religious vocation.

“The way that ordination looks speaks a lot about it,” he stated. “I want a full cathedral — I want people hanging from the rafters.”

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