By JOANNE FOX
Family and friends packed the Cathedral of the Epiphany on June 3 to witness and celebrate the ordination of Andrew Galles and Matthew Solyntjes as the newest priests for the Diocese of Sioux City.
Bishop Walker Nickless ordained the transitional deacons at a 10 a.m. service that drew a packed house on a sunny day.
As the Rite of Ordination began following the Liturgy of the Word, the candidates were presented to the bishop. Speaking to the priestly candidates, the bishop cited the double feast of Pope St. John Paul II and St. Charles Lwanga and Ugandan martyrs who were killed for their faith.
“A well that has many sources never runs dry. When we are gone, others will come after us,” Bishop Nickless quoted one of the Ugandan martyrs as saying.
“You are the hope and joy for the diocese and the church,” Bishop Nickless said. “I know you are committed to building up the people of God.”
Home-grown Iowa boys
In his homily, Bishop Nickless referenced the May 16 edition of The Catholic Globe which featured the two transitional deacons.
“You may have read both are home-grown, Iowa boys,” he informed the congregation.
Deacon Galles is a native of Remsen St. Mary’s and Deacon Solyntjes is a native of Sibley St. Andrew’s.
“They also are both graduates of Iowa State University,” the bishop paused and apologized with, “Sorry Hawkeye fans,” referring to the University of Iowa, then interrupted the congregation’s laughter: “We get more vocations from Iowa State!”
Bishop Nickless added that also in the newspaper story, the deacons – both the youngest among their siblings – expressed great gratitude to their parents, “who provided them with a strong example of married life,” and praised both deacons as a testament to God’s grace and love.
Bishop Nickless cited the challenges the two would face, as Ministry 2025, pastoral planning for the Diocese of Sioux City continues to be implemented.
“We are faced with parishes closing and consolidating,” he said. “Much will be asked of these two young priests, but despite these challenges, we are so thankful they said ‘yes’ to the priesthood.”
The candidates knelt before the bishop as they promised obedience to him and his successors. The two then prostrated themselves before the altar, while the choir and congregation sang the litany of the saints.
After Bishop Nickless laid his hands on each of them, imposing the sacrament of holy orders, each priest present also prayed over the newly-ordained in the same manner.
Once Fathers Galles and Solyntjes were vested in stole and chasuble, Bishop Nickless anointed their hands, saying, “The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, guard and preserve you, that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God.”
The bishop then offered the paten and chalice to the new priests and the kiss of peace concluded the ordination rite. The Liturgy of the Eucharist followed, with Fathers Galles and Solyntjes concelebrating with the other priests.
Following the ordination Mass, Fathers Galles and Solyntjes took time for photographs and to offer priestly blessings to those in attendance.
Among the first to garner a blessing were the parents of Father Solyntjes.
“The Mass was so beautiful,” Scott Solyntes said, tearing up. “I’m just humbled to have been a part of it.”
“It was a blessing to experience it,” Shirley Solyntjes added, also emotional. “I am so proud of the commitment he’s made.”
Donna Galles admitted to attending other ordinations, so the ceremony itself was no surprise.
“What resonated with me was I thought back over all the years that has brought Andrew to this moment,” she said, then confessed, “I actually never thought he would be a priest, so I give credit to his father for his choice.”
“Everything was so beautiful,” Don Galles said, then clarified, “I was more confident this day would come than anyone else.”
The two newly-ordained priests were blessed to have their grandmothers present at their ordination.
“All I could think of during the Mass was how great it was to have one of my grandsons be a priest,” said Betty Zimmer, Father Galles’ maternal grandmother. “I am so proud of him.”
“I remember when Matthew’s dad (Scott) called and told me Matthew wanted to be a priest and he was crying on the phone,” recalled Eileen Solyntjes, Father Solyntjes’ fraternal grandmother. “I told him don’t cry. This is a joyful moment.”
The newly-ordained each had specific experiences from the service that resonated with them.
“I’m a musical kind of guy, so the beauty of the music really carried me into the sacred tone of the ordination,” Father Galles said. “The laying on of hands by the bishop and the presbyterate was moving for me as well.”
“I think the moment that stood out for me was when we were called from the congregation,” Father Solyntjes said. “We were called and then separated from the congregation to accept the fullness of priesthood to serve the people we were just called from.”
Several times in his homily at the priestly ordination Mass on June 3, Bishop Walker Nickless called the transitional deacons “signs of hope” for the future, in addition to referencing the feast day of Ugandan martyrs.
“That’s a lot to take on – being a sign of hope,” Father Solyntjes confessed. “But I feel confident of the constant reassurance of our bishop and our brother priests and the faithful that we will be successful.”
“No pressure to be the hope for the future or to think we might have to lay down our lives for others. Those are high expectations,” Father Galles quipped, then added, “I just hope to be worthy of the gift of ordination.”