Salina — In an overflowing Sacred Heart Cathedral, Andy Hammeke was ordained a priest for the Salina Diocese. During the homily, Diocesan Administrator Father Frank Coady told Father Hammeke that God gave the spirit to bishops, who in turn share a portion of that spirit when they ordain a new priest. “Just as Christ did not hoard his priesthood, but shared it, so the bishops give power to others,” Father Coady said at the Mass on June 2. “Just as Moses did not suffer decrease when a portion of God’s spirit was given to the 70 elders, so the bishops did not suffer decrease when they took a portion of God’s spirit and share it with others. “Andy, you have been called to share in a portion of the bishop’s spirit, and he is no less for it. Just as the ministry of bishop has been shared with you, you must generously share this with the people of God and with all creation. You must trust that whatever you give of yourself will not deplete you. In fact, the more you give, the more you receive.”
God not only involved, but invited humankind to be involved in their own salvation, Father Coady said. “God has never done it for us. He always invites us into ministry,” he said, adding that God became fully human in Jesus. “Christ for the first time in human history lived the covenant with God — fully, perfectly, open, trusting, docile, obedient — offering his very life on the cross.”
In Jesus, God showed humanity what divinity looked like in human form. “He did this not to be admired or thanked or adored. He did it to give us an example of how possible it is for humans to be divine in this world and in this life and in this time,” Father Coady said. With the sacraments, Father Coady said the Church celebrates the sacrament “in advance of the full reality.”
“We priests gathered here together did not have a clue what priesthood was on the day of our ordination,” he said. “Those of you here today who are married, you didn’t have a clue what marriage was on the day of your wedding. We believe that grace given initially grows over time. That’s why we baptize infants. Do they know what they’re doing when they’re baptized? Obviously not, but we trust the grace of God given in the sacrament in the beginning will gradually over time grow in them and develop them into full members of the body of Christ. “And so it is with you, Andy. We don’t expect you to celebrate the fullness of the priesthood starting tomorrow. The grace, the virtues that God instills in you today will grow over time.”
Father Hammeke, 29, the son of Curtis and Annette Hammeke, grew up in Hays at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. He has a brother, Nick, and sister Alicia Knight and husband Kegan, who have two daughters, Emery and Kollins. He is also the grandson of Dennis and Arlene Stastny, of Dwight, Neb., and the late Norman and Joleene Hammeke of Great Bend.
He celebrated his First Mass June 3 at Immaculate Heart of Mary, which he said was a surreal experience. “From the second I started processing in … it was amazing,” he said. “I got to involve so may people in the Mass that meant so much to me. The choir, the servers , the priests, my grandparents, godparents and two best friends.”
Participating fully in the Liturgy of the Eucharist as a priest was a powerful moment, he said. “Especially the consecration and words of institution,” Father Hammeke said. “I felt the closeness of God during it, and had to hold back emotions.” Father Hammeke is assigned to St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina, with St. Patrick Parish in Gypsum. He will begin his duties June 27.
The entire experience — the ordination and his Mass of Thanksgiving — was grace-filled. “It’s been two straight days of nonstop feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit,” Father Hammeke said. “It helped me to remain calm and to take it all in and experience it all. It was powerful. “When the bishop was reading [the words of ordination], I started shaking. I recognized what was happening and I was a priest after those words were said. That was powerful.”
Father Coady said the spirit that Bishop Kemme shared with Father Hammeke did not lessen as it was shared. “I, along with Bishop Kemme and all the other priests gathered here offer you a share in God’s spirit that has been given to us, knowing this will not take anything away from us, but add to us,” Father Coady said. “Understand that this is not the end of the story. This is the beginning.”