When he was in kindergarten, he made an alphabet book in which he wrote that “P” stands for “Priest.” At the bottom, he wrote: “I want to be a priest.”
Nearly 25 years later, on May 30, 2015, Thaddaeus Lancton’s wish came true as he was ordained to the sacred priesthood at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Check out the ordination homily delivered by the main celebrant, the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, the bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts:
With a pledge to dedicate his life preaching the Gospel for the glory of God and the sanctification of His people, this “son of Mary” had one moment of tears during the ordination. It was laden with significance. As is custom at the end of Marian ordinations, Fr. Thad placed a rose at the foot of a statue of Mary and knelt before her for a moment of prayer. Father Thad’s biological mother died when he was only 2 years old. He explained after the ordination that during the moment of prayer before Our Lady, he felt Our Lady take him into her heart.
“She let me know I have a home,” he said. She also confirmed what he always suspected: that his biological mother had been loving him and praying for him from heaven every moment of his life.
Father Thad’s was the second priestly ordination for the Marians in two weeks. Father Jonathan Inskip, MIC, was ordained May 16 in his native British Columbia, in Canada. Deacon Allen Alexander, MIC, will be ordained to the priesthood July 25 at his home parish in Michigan. In the meantime, the Marians’ province in the United States — also including Argentina — now has some 30 men in formation, which is more than half the number of priests and perpetually professed brothers combined.
Each has his own special gifts, said the Very Rev. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior. Following Saturday’s Liturgy, Fr. Kaz noted Fr. Thad’s gifts include a near-supernatural ability to learn foreign languages. He can fluently speak seven languages, including two Filipino dialects. Father Thad’s first priestly assignment outside of Stockbridge will utilize his Spanish-language abilities to serve with his confreres in Argentina.
“His talents were given by God to serve God’s people,” Fr. Kaz said. “All these languages he [Fr. Thad] uses to proclaim one beautiful faith, our faith in the Lord Jesus. So we are very grateful for another priest in our community. The gift of priesthood is Christ’s gift. … It’s a gift to sanctify us.”
No one understands that more than Fr. Thad, a native of Houston, Texas, who said that to fulfill the duties of the priestly life “we must constantly turn to the Lord, begging Him to fill us, to give us to drink of the living water from Christ, so as to fulfill our vocation by His grace and give water to others.”
A favorite prayer of his comes from St. Therese of Lisieux. The prayer beseeches God to “arm me for the struggle. I burn to fight for your honor, but I implore you, fortify my courage.”
Upon the death of Fr. Thad’s mother in 1991, the Lord has been fortifying him for a special calling. A few months following her death, Fr. Thad’s father brought him and Fr. Thad’s siblings on a pilgrimage to Rome.
“Thad was only 3,” recalled his oldest brother, Robbie, who attended the ordination along with Fr. Thad’s three other siblings. “So he would often nap during the Masses we attended. But what was really interesting was that he would always wake up during the Eucharistic prayer.
“We always sensed there was something special going on in his heart,” Robbie said.
Indeed, Fr. Thad said that throughout his childhood, he loved going to Mass, praying the Rosary, and visiting perpetual adoration chapels.
“Other friends could spend days playing sports or video games, or watching movies,” he said. “I automatically preferred being with God.”
As such, his early love for comic books easily morphed into a rich appreciation for the world’s non-fiction superheroes: the saints.
“After I read the Story of a Soul by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, I could relate to her suffering,” he said. “I was amazed by how she could offer it up, and I felt an inner thirst to live a life like her own.”
By the time he was 18, Fr. Thad’s father and grandparents had all died. Thad was the youngest in the family. His siblings say the loss of these loved ones greatly affected Thad. He briefly considered entering the Air Force Academy to become a pilot. But God made it clear to him that the priestly call was not to be ignored. He entered the Marians in 2007 at the age of 20, drawn first by the powerful conversion story of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, and the Marians’ devotion to Our Lady.
In Mary, Fr. Thad found a model of trust and obedience that culminated Saturday when he made his priestly promises before God, family, friends, and fellow Marians. Facing Bishop Rozanski, the priest-to-be stood up and promised before God to:
• with the help of the Holy Spirit, discharge without fail the office of the priesthood in the presbyteral rank, as a worthy fellow worker with the Order of Bishops in caring for the Lord’s flock;
• exercise the ministry of the Word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith;
• celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church’s tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people;
• implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to his care by observing the command to pray without ceasing; and • be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered Himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and with Him to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.
At the reception following the ordination, Fr. Thad stood before the assembled crowd and gave thanks to them all. He also gave special thanks to members of the Association of Marian Helpers.
“Without your prayers and support, which have nurtured me in my formation, I don’t think I would be standing here today,” he said, adding, “Please continue to pray for me. Know that I will be praying for you.”