Newly Ordained—Fr. Michael Averyt and wife Renske stand with Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr. after his ordination to the priesthood on December 9, 2013 at St. Joseph Church in Prince Albert, SK. (de Leon photo)
Fr. Michael Averyt’s Ordination
By Paula Fournier
On December 9, 2013, Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr. ordained the first married priest for the Prince Albert Diocese since its foundation in 1891 in a celebration at St. Joseph Parish in Prince Albert.
Bishop Thévenot and some 40 priests, including educators, staff and seminarians from the Newman Theological College at St. Joseph's Seminary in Edmonton where Fr. Averyt took classes during 2011-2012, joined in the celebration. (For a complete interview with Fr. Michael Averyt, see Prairie Messenger, December 18, 2013)
After the Gospel, diocesan vocation director, Rev. Jim Kaptein asked Michael’s wife, Renske, to stand. Since she will devote herself to the needs of others, Bishop Thévenot bestowed a unique blessing on her, asking God to grant her understanding, wisdom and patience as they journey together.
“As we celebrate this ordination and welcome you among our fellow priests, Michael and Renske, we do this with great joy,” Bishop Thévenot said at the start of his homily. “Pope Francis, in the beginning of his new exhortation, talks about joy of the Gospel. We could say, like the angel in the Gospel ‘Rejoice Michael, for today the Lord is calling you’. In the Christian faith, doors seem to open to larger and more beautiful horizons that rest before us.”
Bishop Thévenot shared his reflections on the angel visiting Mary in the gospel and how she must have wondered if she was awake, and the angel was truly speaking to her, calling her to be the mother of Jesus. “She must have asked herself who this Jesus will be. She listens about Elizabeth who is also expecting. We know she goes to see her expecting cousin who was barren and shares in her joy. How did Mary answer to all this? She believed in the impossible and that God works through each one of us. Do we believe?”
Referring to the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he spoke of Jones being called to cross a precipice with no visible path in blind faith. Bishop Thévenot admits he “would have been more than a doubting Thomas, and yet Jones listens to a voice inside which tells him to cross, to not be afraid. The strength of faith brings peace, joy and serenity to our lives. John Paul II, in his first year, also spoke about not being afraid. Mary said ‘I am the servant of the Lord’. Michael is doing the same thing, saying yes.”
The bishop addressed what it means to be a servant, for lay people and clergy and how all of us are called to live in that way. “Michael is ready, with Renske, to begin that journey to be a priest in the Roman rite. This is something new for us, the expression of our faith changes all the time. Having a married priest is going to be different for all of us, including myself. Be joyful because of it, let the Lord be the leader of our church, let him bring us to that freedom as he gave to Mary because she believed. Serving as God wants is not an easy task, but it is our calling, and we must do it freely. What a blessing for us, our church, and the Diocese of Prince Albert.”
After the prayer of consecration by the bishop, Fr. Averyt was vested with the stole and chasuble with assistance from his wife, Renske, Fr. Maurice Fiolleau and Fr. Sylvain Casavant, a part of the formation team at St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton, AB.
The newly ordained Fr. Averyt acknowledged and gave thanks, “I am thankful for my wife, Renske. In the scriptures, they don’t mention Sarah, how she had to move every few years. Maybe she didn’t complain, I’m not sure, but I know Renske never did. Wives in the Roman Rite are rare, you should meet her, she’s a great lady.” He thanked all the priests present, sharing how he looked forward to working and collaborating together. “Bishop Thévenot once said a priest is like a hyphen, not much for punctuation, but it’s the important link connecting people with God.”
“We all make up the body of Christ; it’s about how we all fit together. Let us show love in our service, that we might live it out fully and have life abundantly.” Thanking St. Mark’s Parish in Prince Albert at his diaconal ordination the week before, he admitted he had had no idea he would be journeying towards Holy Orders. “A good friend in prison ministry was frustrated from lack of priests. I plucked up the courage and began my journey. Things we do affect people very much, she had no idea what she had begun.”