Archbishop ordains, welcomes Frs. Grau, Gonyeau, Djonovic
Detroit — Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron ordained three new priests for the Archdiocese of Detroit on May 18 before a congregation filled with friends, family and well-wishers at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Many priests and prelates were also among the nearly 1,000 people in attendance as the archbishop conferred presbyteral orders on Fr. Marko Mike Djonovic, 34, Fr. Patrick Joseph Gonyeau, 34, and Fr. James Christopher Grau, 28.
Despite his role as ordaining bishop, Archbishop Vigneron made it clear in his homily that it was not he who was accomplishing the transformation taking place in the three candidates for ordination.
“No man, no human person can make priests,” he said, later telling them the “Holy Spirit — and He alone — can make you priests.”
On the other hand, all those present in the cathedral that day should be drawn into participation in the ordination through prayer and singing, the archbishop continued.
Archbishop Vigneron pointed out that the three men about to become priests were not without their weaknesses and shortcomings, “but through the imposition of hands, even those weaknesses — things they might even be embarrassed about — will be dedicated to the priesthood.”
He told them they were about to be sent on a mission, as “ministers of the new evangelization” and “servants of God’s people for the forgiveness of sins.”
“Who of us doesn’t need to hear, day after day, an assurance of God’s mercy?” the archbishop asked.
In his role as spokesman for the ordination class, Fr. Grau said it’s a mystery how God works to call men to the priesthood.
“I don’t think any of us in particular knows why God has chosen us to be priests, but we are very glad that He did,” Fr. Grau said.
He expressed the new priests’ gratitude to God, to the archbishop, to seminary faculty, their fellow priests, family members and all others who had helped them make it to ordination.
Fr. Grau said it was not just one priest who influenced their formation, “but many, kind of presenting a cumulative face of Christ to us.”
He specifically noted their gratitude for the financial support provided for their priestly formation by the Catholic Services Appeal.
Fr. Grau thanked all who had prayed for them through the process of their preparation to become priests, and asked them to “please continue to pray for us.”
At the reception, the parents of the new priests told The Michigan Catholic how they felt seeing their sons ordained.
Fr. Grau’s mother, Julie Grau, said it was “very moving to see him not be afraid to accept God’s call.”
Besides calling the experience “overwhelming,” his father, James Grau, added, “It was like we were turning him over to God, and our job was done.”
“It was a surprise, but it wasn’t a surprise,” Julie Grau said of when her son announced that he intended to pursue ordination to the priesthood. He had spoken of the idea before, but “it was the semester he spent in Rome that did it,” she said.
Fr. Grau, who was trained for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, will be assigned to continue his studies in the eternal city as a graduate student beginning in the fall at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Until then, he will assist at Holy Name Parish, Birmingham.
Both parents expressed confidence their son would be a good and holy priest. “He is very strong in his faith,” his father said, with his mother adding, “He spends a lot of time in prayer.”
Thomas Gonyeau called the experience of seeing his son ordained “awesome,” and Patricia Gonyeau said it was “a wonderful gift.”
She said Fr. Gonyeau would make a great priest “because he is kind, compassionate and a good listener.”
“He truly is someone who asks Jesus, ‘What do you want from me?’ He’s been that way since he was a little kid; he’s filled with the Holy Spirit,” Patricia Gonyeau added.
Fr. Gonyeau’s first assignment will be as associate pastor of National Shrine of the Little Flower Parish, Royal Oak.
Frano Djonovic said seeing his son being ordained “felt good, felt great — it was the greatest blessing we’ve had in our lives.”
Maria Djonovic said the event was the result of “God’s grace, and a lot of prayer and perseverance.”
She said all four of her children had “always been a blessing to me,” but that she had long had the hope that Marko would become a priest.
And she expressed confidence that he would be a great priest, “first of all, because he loves people, and he loves those nobody else likes.”
Fr. Djonovic, whose first assignment will be at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Lake Orion, is not the first man from the local Albanian-American community to be ordained to the priesthood, but he is the first U.S.-born priest to come from that community — a point of pride for both his parents and many other local Albanians.
Among the many local Albanian-Americans attending the ordination ceremony was Kanto Dushaj, who hosts an Albanian-language radio program and is director of religious education at St. Paul (Albanian) Parish in Rochester Hills.
“We’re very proud of him,” he said. “This really is a joy for the local Church and especially for the Albanian-American community.”