ORLANDO | “Honestly, I ‘m just ready to be a priest. That’s what I most look forward to,” said Deacon Adam Marchese as he prepared to be ordained July 25, 2020 at St. James Cathedral in Orlando on the feast day of the apostle James. He, and Deacon Thomas Pringle shared that sentiment. One hour prior to ordination, both joked about counting down twice, as their original ordination was moved from May, delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m tired of saying, I’m going to be a priest,” said Deacon Marchese. “I’m looking forward to saying…” Both men looked at each other and nodded in agreement, smiling as the words came out, “I am a priest.”
Deacon Pringle’s journey has been one of 12 years. Thrilled, he noted his excitement, “to get into a parish and start ministering; to finally share this day with so many people in the diocese – my family, my friends, and all the people in the diocese at all the parishes where I’ve served throughout this time of formation and discernment.”
He added, “I’m looking forward to experiencing it – no longer looking from the sidelines and participating from a distance. I’m looking forward to being open and receptive to what the Lord wants to do in my life and what the Lord wants to give me—that great gift.”
Deacon Marchese quoted his favorite saint, Pope John Paul II. He said, “‘People of God, become who you are.’ I truly believe this is what God has called me to do.”
Sharing in their joy were their families, who participated in the ordination Mass eagerly, from the first row. Parents Colleen and Dominick Marchese, beamed. “For us it’s gone very quickly. We didn’t do any of that work. For him, he says he remembers every day of it,” said Colleen at Vespers, the evening prior.
His older brother, Chris, said one positive thing coming from the COVID-19 crisis was that he could see his brother’s homilies livestreamed. “Living in Lakeland, I don’t get to see his homilies a lot. It’s a different perspective than how I saw him growing up. A lot of people see him as the future Father Adam. I see him as, that’s my brother,” he said smiling at Adam. “I see the man behind the cloth. I think it’s going to be great.”
Across the aisle sat the Pringles. Parents Valerie and Terry watched with tearful eyes as their son’s name was called, and he answered, “Present.” His sister, Rachael Harvester, and husband, William, joined with their young son. As the moment of ordination approached, mom, Valerie acknowledged, “Stress is going away. It did us well that it took a little bit longer, but it mellowed everything out…” Behind her masked face, she noted, “I am just thankful that God gave us this child and that he’s ready to go back to his Father. We have to give him up now.”
She was referring to a point in her pregnancy when she and her husband were informed their son would likely be born with Down syndrome. The doctor recommended they terminate the pregnancy. “No, we’re going to take whatever gift God gives us,” was his father’s reply. A spiritual director suggested it was Terry’s great faith that may have allowed for this miracle.
Looking back at his youth, Valerie noted, “He got involved with altar serving very early and he loved being in the church. It just kept growing. I felt it all his life. I thought he was our special gift. He wasn’t supposed to be born.” Terry, added, “He was doing things people never thought he would be able to do in the Mass at an early age,’ referring to how their son trained altar servers in the eighth grade.
Due to the coronavirus, many family members, including Father Pringle’s brothers, Ben and David, watched via livestream.
Although these two men were not fishermen, like saints Peter and Paul, or vocation director Father Josh Swallows, in his homily, Bishop John Noonan told them, “you will become fishers of souls.” Commenting on Pope Francis’ reflection on the priesthood, the bishop noted, “’We are not born complete, but need to be constantly ‘woven’, ‘knitted together’. ‘Life is given to us as an invitation to continue to weave the ‘wonderful’ mystery that we are.
“The Scriptures open for you ‘a great love story between God and humanity.’ At its center stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfillment both God’s love for you and your love for God.’ Adam and Thomas, both of you spoke of a deep desire to be men of the Gospel; to weave and knit the Scriptures into your daily life of prayer. St. Paul said, ‘You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts,’” (2 Cor 3:3).
He encouraged them to pray the Scriptures and reflect upon them so their message does not become “empty and dry.” Bishop Noonan also summoned them to “a heart of gratitude, mercy, compassion, vigilance and courage.” He assured the two men that, through the continuous building of an “intimate relationship with God,” they will form “the basis for personal and pastoral fruitfulness.”
Quoting Pope Francis, the bishop added, “The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the Lord, for this reason, he no longer looks to himself, but is turned towards God and his brothers and sisters. It is no longer ‘a fluttering heart,’ allured by momentary whims, shunning disagreements and seeking petty satisfactions. Rather, it is a heart rooted firmly in the Lord, warmed by the Holy Spirit, open and available to our brothers and sisters.” In responding, “I do,” to their promises, both priests, at last, confirmed their commitment.
“Some people have said, ‘You seem so natural,” said Father Marchese, commenting on his preparedness for ordination. “That’s because that’s what God has asked me to do,” he replied. “I can only do what the Lord is calling me to do. I’ve answered that call and that’s what has brought me the most joy and happiness. If you encounter people and you see joy and happiness, it’s because the Lord has given them that.”
Father Pringle will serve as parochial vicar at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Indialantic and Father Adam Marchese, a military chaplain, will serve as parochial vicar at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park. Father Marchese will also receive an assignment for his reserve duty for the next three years, until he goes on active duty.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, July 27, 2020