Three Priests Ordained
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
June 10, 2021
ROCKFORD—The atmosphere was joyful as Aaron Downing, James Linkenheld and John McFadden were ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Peter on June 5.
The Rite of Ordination saw them prostrating themselves as everyone sang the Litany of the Saints. They knelt first before Bishop David Malloy and then other priests who laid their hands in prayer on their heads. They pledged obedience to the bishop and his successors, and they accepted the chalice and paten shortly before joining their brother priests for the consecration of the Eucharist.
At the end of the Mass the three new priests gave their first formal blessing to their bishop and a second blessing to their parents.
Before addressing the men before him in his homily, Bishop Malloy noted that he was “especially grateful” for the presence of their parents, whom he called their “first models of faith and of human formation.”
“Aaron, John and James, we are grateful to God and grateful to you that the calling of the Lord for men to come forth from the wider group of disciples to follow Him in special service to the Church continues to this day in you,” Bishop Malloy said, adding, “you are today going to be joined to Christ, configured to Him in a manner to be reflected for all eternity.
“That is what makes today so special and so holy.”
That sense of eternity wound through several of the bishop’s homily reflections, from the irrevocable call of God, to fruit that will last, to the sacrament of confession.
“When Jesus meets the disciples on Easter night he tells them, ‘Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.’
“The very nature of sin has a connection to eternity,” Bishop Malloy said. “All of our sins, mortal or venial, are beyond our human ability to repair or to forgive. They are an offense against the eternal goodness of God. They are, in that sense eternal. Only the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ can offer forgiveness for them which is also eternal and forever before the Father.
“Think of the great privilege that you will have of saying the words of absolution and for all eternity God will forgive and forget those offenses of your brothers and sisters. Again, you will act not in your own name but in the person of Jesus Christ. Once more we can see why our priesthood is forever. It is part of the eternal and unending love of God, and of the strife between good and evil which will last until the final victory when Jesus returns in glory.”
As he concluded his homily, the bishop pointed to trust in Christ as essential, quoting a famous prayer by Cardinal John Henry Newman that “sums up all of our hopes and prayers for you and your priesthood,” he said.
“God has created me to do Him some definite service,” Bishop Malloy quoted. “He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission ... .
“He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work ...
“Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am ... .
“He knows what He is about.”
“Aaron, John and James, this prayer is a wonderful summary of what you are about to begin,” Bishop Malloy said. 
“You are to be priests forever, in the line of Melchizedek.”
The new priests received their first assignments after posing for photos with the bishop after the Mass.
Father Aaron Downing will serve as parochial vicar at St. Bridget Parish in Loves Park; Father James Linkenheld will serve temporarily in that position at St. Mary Parish in Byron; and Father John McFadden will serve at St. Peter Parish in Geneva.


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