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After many years of study and vocational discernment rooted in faith, seven men were ordained to the priesthood and one man to the transitional diaconate by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde during a combined ordination Mass June 6 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

Hundreds of priests, deacons, seminarians, family members and friends joined the combined Cathedral and diocesan choirs in song to celebrate the vocational journeys of newly ordained Deacon Colin Davis and Fathers Dort Bigg, Kevin Dansereau, Joseph Farrell, Drew Haissig, Brian McAllister, Richard Miserendino and Noah Morey at the ordination Mass.

Prior to the Mass, family members of the ordinandi were overcome by joy and gratitude to God.

"I feel that it's the greatest thing that could happen to any man," said Grace Otero, grandmother of now-Father Bigg. "It's just marvelous. I can't express any more than that."

"It's just such a beautiful gift from God," said Kathleen Morey, Father Morey's mother. "He's always been the one in the family that cared and thought for others, so to see him dedicate his life to the Lord in this way is beautiful. We're just so grateful."

Although William Haissig initially had trouble coming to terms with the fact that his son Drew wanted to become a priest, he realized that his son had a

vocation to the religious life when now-Father Haissig walked out of a screening of the religious film, "Fishers of Men."

"My wife asked me why he had left, and I told her, 'He knows.' She said, 'He knows what?' and I said, 'That he is called to be a priest.'"

After seeing his son's reaction, Haissig went to confession and the priest asked him to consider why God was calling his son to the priesthood.

"I knew that it was because his life would be better than I could ever ask for and I could not feel more blessed to call him my son today."

During his homily, Bishop Loverde spoke directly to the candidates for the diaconate and the priesthood. Looking at Colin Davis, the bishop encouraged the candidate for the diaconate to recognize his role as a "minister of Jesus Christ" in order to facilitate "the sanctification and nourishment of God's people."

Turning to the seven candidates for priesthood, Bishop Loverde encouraged them to "carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and love" by always keeping the Good Shepherd as their example.

"Conformed and configured to this same Lord Jesus through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, you too must be good shepherds, laying down your lives daily for the salvation of the people entrusted to your care," said Bishop Loverde. "Be merciful to them like the Good Shepherd … so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit."

At the reception in Burke Hall after the ordination, the diocese's newest priests had difficultly expressing their overwhelming happiness in words.

"There are experiences in life where you're just so joyful that words don't seem to justify feelings because words cannot contain them," said Father Miserendino. "But it's such a grace - this day has been so fantastically graced. I'm so grateful to God."

Echoing the sentiments of nearly all the ordinandi, Father McAllister emphasized how humbled he was by the amazing experience.

"I'm filled with joy and gratitude, but I am especially humbled," said Father McAllister. "I am absolutely humbled that this is the way that God chose to work in my life."

Father Bigg only had one word to express the powerful emotions he felt.

"Gratitude. That's the only word," said Father Bigg. "It's an incredible thing to look back on life and see how divine providence leads you and guides you in ways that you don't even realize. God writes straight with crooked lines."

United with his brothers in Christ, Father Morey is looking forward to the future. "I know I'm joining a winning team in the Arlington Diocese, so I'm excited to get started."

Willis can be reached at jwillis@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015