By Tony DeGol
Robin McMullen remembers the time years ago when Seminarian Brian Warchola visited her first grade classroom.
“You have come full circle now,” McMullen, principal of Holy Name School in Ebensburg, told Father Warchola, new Pastor of Holy Name Parish. “Now I’m not guiding you in a first grade classroom. You’re my boss! We are blessed to have you here, to have you lead us with your strong faith for Jesus.”
McMullen’s comments came at the conclusion of an August 30 school Mass during which the Very Reverend Leonard Voytek, VF, Dean of the Prince Gallitzin Deanery, installed Father Warchola as Pastor.
The installation is a traditional ceremony in the Catholic Church formally recognizing the priest as pastor of his new parish and presenting him to the faithful. The Dean leads the ceremony on behalf of the Bishop.
Various priests from throughout the diocese were also in attendance as a show of support and fraternity.
In his homily, Father Warchola introduced the priests to the students, along with his customary tongue-in-cheek humor about each.
He also took advantage of his captive audience to recall his discernment journey and highlight the gift of his priestly vocation.
“I had times in my life when I said I don’t want to be a priest, but it was guys like Father Voytek and some of the priests here and others in my life who encouraged me to stick with it and think about going to seminary to discern my call,” he stated. “So someone like Father Voytek, who I met 27 years ago, and here we are in 2019, and he installed me as Pastor of Holy Name Parish. There’s a lot of history with all of these priests.”
Among those present was Monsignor David Lockard, the former Pastor of Holy Name. He is now Administrator of Saint Michael Parish in St. Michael.
Following the student-led hymn “10,000 Reasons,” McMullen invited both Father Warchola and Monsignor Lockard forward for a moment of appreciation.
“I can think of 10,000 reasons of how Monsignor Lockard and Father Brian have been positive role models of the faith here at Holy Name School for the students, teachers, myself, my staff, and Holy Name Parish,” she noted.
“Goodness,” she continued, is the first word that comes to mind when she thinks of both.
“Monsignor Lockard, you have demonstrated the strongest kind of love that any person can. You have passed on the love of this large parish and our school to someone with the energy and faithfulness to strongly guide them into the future,” McMullen said. “May God bless you as you move on to Saint Michael Parish. I pray the parishioners there experience your gentle heart and your kindness just like I have.”
Students representing each class came forward to present Monsignor Lockard and Father Warchola with homemade cards, and Monsignor Lockard took a moment to acknowledge the occasion.
Holy Name will always hold a special place in his heart, he assured them, and he is confident Father Warchola will serve the parish and school well in the days to come.
“I wish you all a very great school year,” Monsignor Lockard told the students. “Do the best you can this year. Learn something, but above all, grow closer to Jesus. That’s a successful year.”
[Top photo: Father Brian Warchola, Monsignor David Lockard, and Principal Robin McMullen join students representing each class at Holy Name School in Ebensburg in a show of appreciation for Father Warchola and Monsignor Lockard’s contributions.]
[Middle photo: The Very Reverend Leonard Voytek, VF, (left) Dean of the Prince Gallitzin Deanery, installs Father Brian Warchola as Pastor of Holy Name Parish in Ebensburg as Deacon Michael Condor (right) assists.]
[Bottom photo: Father Brian Warchola and Monsignor David Lockard, current and former pastors of Holy Name Parish respectively.]