WELLSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) - It was a mass unlike any other Saturday, as an unforgettable religious moment turned a husband and father of three, from a deacon to a priest in the Catholic Diocese.
Bishop Richard Malone led over 100 of the Catholic faithful in celebrating the Ordination Mass of Father John Cornelius Saturday, at Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville.
As the Bishop noted, it was a "life changing event" for Cornelius, as well as the Western New York Catholic community.
Father John Cornelius, who spent more than 20 years serving as a priest in the Episcopal Church, became the first married man to be ordained a Catholic priest, in the Diocese of Buffalo.
"It is wonderful," Father Cornelius said after the Mass. "It really is. I feel like I've been working my whole life, trying to answer God's call, and here I am."
"I don't think there's anything, in the life of a Bishop, of all the many tasks we have [that brings greater joy] than ordaining a man to the priesthood," said Bishop Malone. "It goes back to the first century, Christ appointing the Apostles. And from that time on, the Apostles -- the first Bishops -- laid hands on men, and they became priests. So it's a long, long beautiful tradition."
For Father Cornelius, it marks the end of one spiritual journey, and the beginning of another.
Completing the Rite of Ordination, Father Cornelius promised to "care for the Lord's flock preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith."
"May God, who has begun the good work in you, bring it to completion," concluded Bishop Malone.
Photos from the ordination mass can be seen here
Other Dioceses around the country have already welcomed converting Anglicans as priests, and the Western New York Catholic community, Bishop Malone says, is ready to do the same.
"He's been serving here as a pastoral associate, and then he was ordained a Deacon a few months ago. So he's well-known to these parishes, these churches in this area. And I think they're very fond of him," Bishop Malone observed.
The parishioners gathered to welcome Father Cornelius into the priesthood included close family as well as more distant relatives, people who grew up and went to school with him as children in Bolivar, and Catholics not just from the Immaculate Conception parish, but from neighboring churches and towns across Allegany County.
"John has endeared himself to our parish," said James Campbell, who came from Alfred-Almond. "And one thing that you will notice about John, he's not afraid to tell it like it is."
"He does," agreed Campbell's wife, Kimberly. "He adds in a lot of his [life] experience into his homilies, and makes you feel really good when you're listening to him."
Father Cornelius' wife Sharyl gave the first reading of the Gospel. His three daughters Rebecca, Virginia and Sarah brought the gifts to the altar.
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