Following their Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood on May 20, 2023, newly-ordained Fr. Christopher Grief and Fr. Chris Kight are welcomed with applause by their brother priests. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC
Bishop encourages two new priests – both named Christopher – to be ‘Christ-bearers’
BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
For several hours on May 20, 2023, St. Thomas More Parish in Paducah served as the diocese’s “cathedral,” according to Bishop William F. Medley, as he welcomed those gathered to witness the priestly ordinations of Fr. Christopher Grief and Fr. Chris Kight.
“This is a great day in the history of our Church,” said the bishop as he addressed the people who filled St. Thomas More to its capacity.
Both men had grown up in Paducah – Fr. Grief a son of St. John the Evangelist Parish, and Fr. Kight a son of St. Thomas More Parish – and so Bishop Medley had felt it fitting to hold their ordinations where their vocations began many years ago. Typically, priestly ordinations are held at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro.
Another special aspect of this year’s ordination was that both new priests were named Christopher.
Speaking in his homily, Bishop Medley said he could not recall ever preaching on the legend of St. Christopher – but that today was the day to do so.
“Christopher was a devout and pious man who longed to serve others,” said the bishop. He told the story of the legendary saint, known for his great strength, who one day carried a small child across the river. As he walked through the water, the child became heavier with each step, until Christopher could barely carry him.
It was then that the boy revealed he was the Christ Child, who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“The very name Christopher means Christ-bearer,” said Bishop Medley, adding that the term is also where the Church gets the title of “Theotokos” for the Blessed Mother – the original Christ-bearer.
The bishop praised the mothers of both new priests, affirming them for raising their sons to be men who answered God’s call, and led the faithful in a round of applause for the mothers.
“Your mothers and fathers named you well,” said the bishop. “It is God’s will that you are chosen to bear the Christian faithful… Let your shoulders grow strong so that you can bear these beautiful people, and bear their crosses for them.”
The sunny Paducah day was highlighted by the liturgy’s bilingual readings and music in English and Spanish, which included the singing of Michael Joncas’s “No Greater Love” and the traditional Marian hymn “O Sanctissima.”
Following the final blessing and dismissal, Fr. Grief and Fr. Kight processed out of St. Thomas More, where their brother priests gathered outside in the church courtyard to cheer and applaud for them. The celebration continued in the parish hall, where all were welcomed to gather for refreshments and to receive blessings from the two new priests.
Speaking with The Western Kentucky Catholic a few days after his ordination, Fr. Kight said he is “eternally thankful.”
“I am thankful to God, first of all, for the gift of the priesthood,” he said. “I am thankful for everyone that played a role in my formation that brought me to the altar. As I looked out into the crowd at my ordination and my first Mass of thanksgiving, there wasn’t one person there who did not play a role in my formation, both in seminary and before.”
Fr. Grief agreed: “A priest’s journey towards the altar is not a solo endeavor; there are many people who help him get there!”
“Ordination day was filled with many graces and I look forward to serving the Church and her people,” he said.