BRUNSWICK — “This is amazing.”
That is how Father Patrick Finn described what it’s like to now be a priest of the Diocese of Portland. Father Finn was ordained by Bishop Robert P. Deeley on Saturday, June 16 in a full St. John the Baptist Church in Brunswick, a church where he once enjoyed youth ministry and a short distance from St. Mary Church in Bath, where he was baptized, confirmed, made his first Communion and was a reader at Mass when just a teenager.
“Patrick, my brother, we believe that Jesus Christ has called you by name,” said Bishop Deeley during his homily. “Jesus has spoken to your heart and he has called you in a special way, as the Gospel so beautifully tells it today, to be his friend — to follow in his footsteps; to make his path the path of your life. Jesus has called you to share in his priesthood and continue his mission. Just as Jesus entrusts the responsibility of continuing his mission to his disciples, so too does he do with you. That, truly, gives us cause for joy this day.”
Filling the pews were family members, friends spanning Father Finn’s life from childhood to the priesthood, and parishioners who held a special pride as they watched “one of their own” be ordained.
“I am just so totally overwhelmed, so humbled and I could see a difference in Father Patrick after he was ordained as he was walking up into the sanctuary,” said Joann Finn, his mother. “There was a definite aura with him and a reassurance with all the grace that he’s been given. I could just see it. I’m just totally happy, overwhelmed, grateful.”
“There is no joy to match looking out to see 600 people and knowing they’re all there for God and for Patrick,” said Jim Finn, his father. “That’s amazing. That’s amazing, so glad, so thankful. It’s just awesome. It really is.”
“His lovely parents, to see them with tears in their eyes, was so touching,” said Fr. Thomas Murphy, pastor of All Saints Parish in Brunswick, who was ordained to the priesthood 39 years ago to the day. “This was the church triumphant today.”
During the ordination Mass, Finn affirmed his willingness to become a priest, resolving, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of priesthood; to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely; to celebrate faithfully and reverently the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation; to pray without ceasing for God’s mercy upon his people; and to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.
While placing his hands within the bishop’s, Finn promised respect and obedience to him and his successors. He then lay prostrate while the congregation joined in the singing of the Litany of Saints, a prayer of supplication in which the intercession of the saints and the Blessed Mother are sought. Finn then again approached the bishop who laid hands on him in silence. All the priests in attendance then did the same.
“I really felt the presence of the Lord with each part of the laying on of hands. I just had this sensation of the Lord being there and the Lord making a really great thing happen for me and making a change, giving me this great gift. It began with the bishop’s laying on of hands and just continued through all the priests imposing hands as well.”
That was followed by the solemn Prayer of Ordination, during which the bishop asked the Lord to “grant us this helper that we need to exercise the priesthood that comes from the Apostles.” It is as this prayer concludes that Patrick Finn became Father Patrick Finn.
Newly ordained, Father Finn was then vested with the stole and chasuble, symbols of the priesthood, by Father Anthony Tinker, F.H.S., a longtime friend and the director of Native American ministries for the Diocese of Phoenix and community servant of the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit.
“It was pretty profound with Father Anthony, who I’ve known for ages, giving me the symbols of the ministry I’ve been given,” he said.
Once vested, the bishop anointed Father Finn’s hands with sacred chrism, asking the Lord to “guard and preserve you that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God.”
Father Finn’s parents then brought the bread and wine forward in the paten and chalice that are now his. The chalice and paten once belonged to Father R. Michael McGarrigle, who was Father Finn’s pastor in Bath for 10 years. He died in 2010 but made it known that they should be given to Father Finn. The same chalice and paten had been presented to Father McGarrigle at his ordination in 1949.
“I love that it has a story, and I love that it has a story that is a part of mine in some fashion,” said Father Finn.
The bishop and priests from around the diocese and beyond in attendance then welcomed Father Finn to the presbyterate with the fraternal kiss of peace. Moments after, Father Finn joined the bishop and his fellow priests in celebrating the Eucharist.
“To actually be offering the sacrifice of the Eucharist, joining in that offering, was just amazing and to go to give Communion to people, oh my gosh, I was just totally overcome, with a lot of these people I’m giving Communion to I’ve known all my life,” said Father Finn.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Father Finn gave his first blessing as a priest to Bishop Deeley, who then kissed the new priest’s hands. At a reception following the Mass, Father Finn received congratulatory hugs and gave blessings to those who requested them, including family members, friends, religious sisters, deacons and others.
“Wow,” said an overwhelmed Father Finn as he looked down on his kneeling mom and dad to bless them.
Father Finn says he has always known the presence of the Lord in his life, first thinking that he might be called to the priesthood when he was a boy in fifth grade. He said attending the YOUTH 2000 retreat and the Steubenville East summer youth conference as a high school student further enlivened his faith, as did seeing Saint John Paul II at World Youth Day in 2002.
“It was just one of the early times when somebody significant had really called it out generally but where it really sort of hit me,” said Father Finn, who chose a quote from Saint John Paul II’s homily at World Youth Day for his prayer card which was given to each person gathered on Saturday.
After graduating from Morse High School in Bath, Father Finn attended Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, and he said that it was there that it became clear to him that he had a vocation to the priesthood. While he considered returning to Maine, he said he felt the Lord was calling him to be a religious order priest with the Franciscans who minister at the university. After he received his degree in theology, he entered formation with the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular at their motherhouse in Loretto, Pennsylvania. In 2008, he professed first vows, then moved to Washington, D.C., to continue his formation and education.
During his time with the friars, he worked at a small Catholic elementary school in Loretto, worked with a fraternity of Secular Franciscans and a group for people with special needs and their families, served at an inner-city parish in Maryland, completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (hospital ministry training) in Florida, and lived among the Yankton Sioux in South Dakota.
He attended the Catholic University of America and earned a master of divinity degree in 2012, but around that same time, he left the Franciscans.
“I had many awesome opportunities as a friar and I learned and experienced so much that I never could have gotten elsewhere,” said Father Finn. “But God made it clear that this particular community wasn’t where I needed to be.”
He thought about what he was truly passionate about and the process led him to serve as the communications director for the Black and Indian Mission Office in Washington, D.C. Just over a year later, an opportunity arose that he could not turn down. Monsignor Marc Caron, who concelebrated the ordination Mass on Saturday, hired him as the director of faith formation at Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston.
“I loved my work there, a city where four generations of my family had lived and worked. I worked with a lot of really wonderful people, and we were able to get some great evangelistic and catechetical efforts in motion during that time. It was an awesome time of ‘paying forward’ the blessings I received years earlier.”
Living back home and being surrounded by several longtime priest friends put Father Finn where he felt he needed to be: back on the path to the priesthood.
“Father Nathan March mentioned one strong common bond among all the priests of the Diocese of Portland. They have an almost visceral connection to the people and place of Maine. That really got me thinking that I had that, and had for a long time. I finally completed my application to the diocese, and the Lord’s taken it from there,” said Father Finn, who completed two additional years of theological study at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts and was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Deeley in October of 2017.
He says a recent trip to the Holy Land served as the perfect conclusion to his preparation for ordination, bringing him even closer to the One in whose name he will be serving.
“I think the one good illustration is in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, going upstairs to the chapels that are built on top of Calvary and being able to reach down under this altar and venerate the actual stone of Calvary,” he said. “Fr. Bob (Vaillancourt) and I talked after one of the first times I was up there. I was able to get there several times through the trip, and we were saying, this is what I’m getting ordained for, is to bring people sacramentally speaking there, to what happened on that spot and this actually happened, and it happened here. I touched it. So, whew, just to have that within weeks was really a blessing.”
Over 25 priests concelebrated the Mass on Saturday, assisted by deacons and diocesan seminarians. Music was provided by the All Saints Parish Choir, the St. Mary Church Choir from Bath and the Parish of the Holy Eucharist Choir from Falmouth, where Father Finn had completed a pastoral assignment.
“I’m just so blessed, so blessed to know wherever I go, the sacramental presence of the Lord can go, too, and the healing, the mercy of the Lord, I can offer that anywhere I go,” said Father Finn. “It’s just a gift.”
“To serve Jesus is a sacrifice,” the bishop told Father Finn during the Mass. “It means that we give up our own interests and place ourselves in the hands of the Lord. As you give of yourself so that Jesus is present to the people you serve, rely on him to be with you. In his promise is our hope.”
Father Patrick Finn