Applause in the sanctuary echoed as rain pounded the roof Saturday morning at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, where four men were ordained into the diocesan priesthood.
More than three decades have passed since the diocese of Winona ordained four men in one Mass, which last happened in 1976.
The Diocese of Winona ordained four priests, from left to right, William Thompson, Thomas Niehaus, Ubaldo Roque Huerta and Jeffrey Dobbs, Saturday at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona. (Photo by Fred Schulze/Winona Daily News)
Bishop Bernard J. Harrington, who presided over the liturgy, joked that while Pope Benedict XVI ordained 29 men recently in the diocese of Rome, the population difference means Winona technically ordained more priests.
“The Catholic population in the diocese of Rome is 2,500,000. The Catholic population in the diocese of Winona is 150,000,” Bishop Harrington said. “Proportionally, the diocese of Rome would need 68 deacons to be equivalent.”
The three-hour Mass was standing-room only, and the several hundred people attending prompted extra chairs be brought in for the service.
Rose Hammes, director of communications for the diocese of Winona, said the seats were two-thirds full by 8:45 a.m., an hour and 15 minutes before Mass began.
The Rev. Jeffrey Dobbs, the Rev. Ubaldo Huerta, the Rev. Thomas Niehaus and the Rev. William Thompson replaced their stoles as Harrington welcomed them into the high priesthood.
Huerta responded to a request for more priests in the area to work with Latino immigrants. He attended the Seminary of Tacambaro Michacan and Seminario Hispano de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, both in Mexico.
Niehaus, of Sleepy Eye, Minn., comes from a vocational family. Two of his brothers serve as priests and one of his sisters, Deanne, serves as a sister of mercy. He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, and completed his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Thompson, of Lake City, Minn., attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, specializing in Scripture studies.
Dobbs, of Pipestone, Minn., attended both Immaculate Heart and St. Paul Seminary.
“It is a blessing to be gathered to celebrate the priesthood of Jesus Christ and the love of the Eucharist,” Dobbs said after the Mass.
All of the newly ordained priests will celebrate their Masses of Thanksgiving today at their home churches. Winona Daily News
80 Priests came to the ceremony from Mexico to honor Father Huerta. I wonder if Mexico may become the "new Ireland" as a foreign source for Minnesota priests?