Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, Father Brian Fallon and four other newly ordained priests celebrated their first Masses last weekend, just one day after their May 26 ordination at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. It was a culminating moment, a realization of all the hard work they had achieved through their years of formation in the seminary and a visible “yes” to God’s vocational calling.
For their first Masses, new priests typically invite another priest to be the guest homilist — many times it’s a former pastor or another priest who played a direct role in his formation.
For his first Mass celebrated May 27 at his home parish, Holy Infant in Ballwin, Father Fallon invited one of the top leaders in the Church here in the United States — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and also a native of Holy Infant.
Despite a busy schedule, Cardinal Dolan said “yes” to the invitation. And it wasn’t just because of Cardinal Dolan’s support for his home parish, but also his support for vocations……He gave Father Fallon a chalice that once belonged to Msgr. Adolph Schilly, who served as Holy Infant pastor from 1967-1984. A chalice belonging to Father Jeremiah Callahan, pastor from 1958-1967, was given to Father Yates when he was ordained.
During his homily, Cardinal Dolan said he needed to resist the temptation to preach about himself and his love for Holy Infant, where he celebrated his first Mass as a priest 36 years ago. He even resisted talking about Father Fallon’s own vocational story, “to proclaim what a gift you are for the Church, even canonize you,” he said, which elicited a roar of laughter from Massgoers.
“But that kind of sermon comes perilously close to the Irish definition of a funeral,” Cardinal Dolan quipped, adding to the laughter.
Instead, he said, “I’ve got to preach about Jesus and His Church,” on the feast of Pentecost and “at the first Mass of a man who only 24 hours ago had his life reconfigured, reordered in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, so that he now acts in the very person of Jesus Christ as he loves and leads and fathers and shepherds his Church as a priest.”
Read on for more, and to learn what led to the invitation.