Bishop to new priests: Care for those with greatest needs

Father John Paul Hartnedy (foreground left) and Father Nathan Ashburn celebrate after their priestly ordination May 27 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock.
Father John Paul Hartnedy (foreground left) and Father Nathan Ashburn celebrate after their priestly ordination May 27 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock.

Father John Paul Hartnedy and Father Nathan Ashburn shared similar paths to their priestly ordination May 27.

The Little Rock residents attended Christ the King School and graduated from Catholic High School and Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. Both of their fathers are deacons, ordained together in 2012. On May 28 the new priests celebrated their first Masses with their fathers assisting on the altar.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor ordained his 47th and 48th priests during a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. The Rite of Ordination includes several steps, including the congregation praying the Litany of Saints while the elect are prostrate before the altar, the bishop and all priests laying their hands on the elect, prayer of ordination while they are kneeled before the bishop and anointing their hands with chrism oil. During the sign of peace, the bishop and 50 priests warmly hugged the new priests.

For the investiture of the stole and chasuble, Father Ashburn chose former vocations director Msgr. Scott Friend of Jonesboro and Father Ruben Quinteros of North Little Rock. Father Hartnedy selected Father Stephen Gadberry of Little Rock and Father Joe Friend of Morrilton to invest him in his liturgical vestments.

In his homily, Bishop Taylor told the new priests, “You should seek to be so intimately united to Jesus that his mission becomes your mission, with special concern for those who need us the most.” (See bishop's complete homily)

Bishop Taylor noted special concern should be made for the poor, those who need pastoral counseling, prisoners and those who are grieving. 

Father of one of the new priests Deacon Danny Hartnedy, a teacher at Christ the King School, said the most moving moment for him was the laying on of hands.

“The laying on of hands when all the priests went through,” he said. “And, of course, the blessing of the family.”

Father Hartnedy, 26, agreed that the laying of hands meant the most to him.

“My eyes were closed, but I could feel all different kinds of hands. Some rough, some big, some small,” he said. “It was just beautiful. I felt very much at peace but moved.”

Father Hartnedy’s only sister, Catherine, said her brother will be a “loving” priest.”

“Because he already is loving,” she said.

“He will be present to the people too,” Deacon Hartnedy added.

Beginning July 1, Father Hartnedy will be the associate pastor of St. Edward Church in Texarkana and its missions in Ashdown and Foreman.

Father Ashburn’s father, Deacon Chuck Ashburn, assistant vocations director for development and academic advising, said the sign of peace meant the most to him.

“Seeing the joy in him and his brother priests, especially those he had a close relationship with, that is when I cried,” he said. “I did pretty good until that point.”

One of the most memorable moments for Father Ashburn was when vocations director Father Jeff Hebert stood before the bishop to vouch for the new priests’ “worthiness.”

“It’s a sense of fulfillment,” he said. “You always have your self-doubt if you are worthy. It’s not only you that has to make that decision; it’s the Church too.”

After Mass, Father Ashburn, 34, reunited with three CHS classmates he graduated with, Fathers Patrick Friend, Stephen Hart and Martin Siebold. All four are from the Class of 2007.  

Father Ashburn will be the associate pastor of Christ the King Church in Little Rock and St. Francis of Assisi Church in Little Italy beginning July 1.

Malea Hargett

Malea Hargett has guided the diocesan newspaper as editor since 1994. She finds strength in her faith through attending Walking with Purpose Bible studies at Christ the King Church in Little Rock.

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