By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND
Crookston – “My brothers and sisters, we gather this day for this ordination ceremony, the ordination to the ministerial priesthood of Michael Ryan Arey who gives himself this day, and God gives him to us, for priestly ministry. Our hearts are ready O God, our hearts are ready,” said Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner after welcoming those gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston on June 15.
Father Arey’s parents, Stefan and Beverly Arey of St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead, were glad to share the joyful day with family and friends.
“The end of his first journey is finally over, and a new beginning or chapter is starting. We are so excited to watch it happen,” said Beverly. “Watching our son become a priest and hearing the vows of holy orders … it will be a beautiful and emotional day for us and our family.”
Following their son’s formation for the priesthood has strengthened and renewed Beverly and Stefan’s faith. The couple adopted Michael through Catholic Charities in St. Paul and raised him in the Catholic faith. Around age 12 or 13, he felt drawn to the priesthood but resisted, eventually leaving the Church for several years. A lack of peace brought him back and led to his vocation.
“We have learned so much more about being Catholic from Mike and it was so fun listening to what he learned and how excited and moved he was in all that was presented to him and what he was experiencing,” Beverly said. “Hearing his homilies [as a deacon] was such a joy … we believe this is one of Mike’s strengths.”
She and Stefan encourage parents to be open and supportive of their children and to pray about their vocation as a family.
“Love them and rejoice in their decision,” Beverly said. “It will be a beautiful journey for everyone.”
The final stage of formation for priesthood is spent as a transitional deacon. Father Arey said during the past year he appreciated serving at the altar, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and ministering to families.
“Giving myself to the Lord in service at his Holy Banquet has been humbling and fruitful. Also, being with families and encountering people on their faith journey has warmed my heart. I am blessed beyond words to have shared those moments with parishioners,” he said.
While attending St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, St. Joseph in Waconia was his “teaching parish” for the past four years. Seminarians are assigned to a parish to learn the ins and outs of being a pastor. Several families and the current and former pastors of St. Joseph attended the ordination.
Father Bennet Tran, currently pastor of St. Stephen, Anoka, was pastor at St. Joseph for three of the four years Father Arey was assigned there.
“He is a holy person and always looking for ways he can be more effective in serving the people of God,” Father Tran said. “I think the Diocese of Crookston is very blessed to have him.”
Father Stan Mader has been pastor at St. Joseph during Father Arey’s final year of formation. He said the ability to preach well and identify with people’s experiences are some of Father Arey’s strengths.
According to Father Mader, because of Father Arey’s experiences in life he will be able to minister well to people facing challenges.
“He knows the whole death and resurrection has been lived in his life and he will be able to identify that and help people in their journeys,” Father Mader said.
Father Arey is glad to serve as a spiritual father to God’s flock.
“I am looking forward to being sent like the Apostles and disciples before me with the Holy Spirit as my guide,” he said. “I cling to the words of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, the patron saint of priests, ‘the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.’ I am truly blessed and humbled to be called by our Lord.”
Father Arey’s assignment as Parochial Vicar at Holy Rosary, Detroit Lakes, begins July 1.
To view additional images from Father Arey’s ordination to the priesthood CLICK HERE.