Fr. Michael Dion | First Mass
A couple of weekends ago, the Seattle Archdiocese ordained five new priests. My family attended the Ordination Mass at St. James Cathedral and it was one of the most spectacular Masses I've ever attended. It is difficult to put into words how wonderful it was to be surrounded by hundreds of fellow Catholics a beautiful cathedral, celebrating five men who are committing their lives to the Church.
The Catholic Church celebrates entering the priesthood very much like one would celebrate two people falling in love and getting married. Really, it is a marriage of sorts, between the priest and God. This particular celebration spanned over a couple of days, beginning with the Ordination Mass Saturday morning and ending with the new priests' first Mass and reception on Sunday.
I was honored to spend Saturday evening and Sunday morning with Fr. Michael Dion and his family and friends. Fr. Michael asked me to document his private reception as well as his first Mass and reception at his home parish, Sacred Heart. Having the opportunity to document such a momentous occasion is something I will cherish forever. The joy between Fr. Michael and his support system was so palpable. Everyone had their fair share of smiles and big bear hugs. At one point, someone asked if I thought I was getting good photos and, without hesitation I exclaimed "YES!" It is hard not to snap good images when everyone around you is so dang happy.
There are literally hundreds of photos I would love to share with you, but I thought I'd start with a few snaps from Fr. Michael's first Mass on Sunday morning. I know I've mentioned this before, but photographing Masses is my jam. It is a completely new way of worship for me, and if I could photograph Mass every Sunday I totally would.
One of the coolest memories of this particular Sunday was being in the sacristy as the priests were preparing for Mass. Unless you are also participating in Mass on any given Sunday, it is rare to have the opportunity to witness what goes on behind the scenes. This is not because it is secret, it's just that hanging out with the priest right before Mass is something you don't normally do. :) It is clear that every priest present last Sunday has a deep respect for Fr. Michael, and that feeling is mutual. Spending time in the sacristy in a way re-humanized the priesthood for me. I think sometimes we put priests on a pedestal and forget that they are just like us - they have friends, they get nervous, they have inside jokes. They also have a deep love for Christ and for their congregation. Just something to remember the next time you go to church.
Another favorite memory that will stick with me (and I'm sure anyone else who attended this Mass) was Fr. Michael's gifts to his parents. At the end of Mass, Fr. Michael was presented with several gifts from the Knights of Columbus, his family and Sacred Heart. He then had the chance to stand up and thank his parents for their love and support. The gifts he chose were so meaningful and special, and his words were so profound and elegant. It was like time stood still for a minute. As he was explaining the purpose of the gifts to his mom and dad, gifts that they will ultimately be buried with when they pass on, he told them: "At the end of your life, when you are standing in front of the Lord and he asks 'What have you done for me?', you can say 'I gave you a priest.'" What a beautiful, real, emotional answer. And I swear there was not a dry eye in the house after that, including my own. I still tear up when I look at that series of photos (about 3/4 of the way down).
Some other favorite moments: Fr. Michael gave a special dedication of his priesthood to Mary before the end of Mass, which you could tell was an incredibly important and private moment for him // When snapping the large group photo in front of church after Mass, somebody called out: "Quick! Everyone look holy!!" // When Fr. Michael gave a blessing to one of the little boys after Mass, this little boy stood absolutely still with his eyes squeezed shut. It was the most still he had been all day, and you could tell he was really concentrating hard. So cute!!
Alright guys, with all that being said, I am very excited to share with you a few images from Fr. Michael's Mass of Thanksgiving. Enjoy!!
Thank you, Fr. Michael, for the opportunity of a lifetime. I hope that these images make you smile and bring back good memories every time you look at them. You are such a gift to us all, and I cannot wait to see what the future brings for you.
To Fr. Dion's family - thank you so much for allowing me to document such a wonderful time of your lives. You are all amazing, and I am so grateful to have met you. Many blessings to you all.
Have a wonderful (short) week, everyone!