The Body of Christ Welcomes Two New Priests

By Tonia Borsellino

Every pew in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine was full, on May 14. People, young and old, were lining the walls with smiles on their faces as they looked toward the altar.

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

There, stood Bishop Felipe J. Estévez and Bishop Emeritus John Snyder with the newly ordained priests of the Diocese of St. Augustine: Fathers Philip Timlin, 32, and David Keegan, 40.

The two men were welcomed into the brotherhood of clergy after being anointed by Bishop Estévez and blessed by the priests from around the diocese. Among them was Dominican Father Terrance J. Keegan – the uncle of newly ordained Father David Keegan.

In his homily, Bishop Estévez called to mind the providential timing of this particular ordination. Falling on the same weekend as Pentecost, Bishop Estévez said the Holy Spirit is outpoured during the laying on of hands in an ordination.

“In the Acts of the Apostles, this is always related to the activity of the Holy Spirit granting responsibility to a person for the sake of the global mission, ” Bishop Estévez said.

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

“Then their hands are consecrated with the holy Chrism, the special anointing of the Holy Spirit, making their ministry fruitful both visibly and invisibly,” he explained.

The anointing of the hands had special significance for Father Timlin’s mother.

“When he [Father Timlin] was vested, his hands were anointed and he joined the fraternal welcoming of all the priests, you know he’s no longer yours,” Kathy Timlin said.

“He belongs to mother Church,” she added.

Father Timlin’s mother said this bittersweet moment was beautiful because of the community that gathered to watch it all happen.

“That’s the pinnacle of communion,” she shared.

“It’s the body of Christ coming together to celebrate the continuation of the priesthood and apostolic succession.”

In attendance were classmates and faculty from both St. John Vianney and St. Vincent de Paul seminaries, family, friends and others who have come in contact with the men during their nine years of formation.

The ordination was a celebration for all in the diocese.

“I never thought I’d make it here to see this day,” said Rose Delaune, Father Keegan’s aunt.

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

Delaune has had health complications in the past and traveled from Jeanerette, La. to be there for her nephew’s big day.

“We prayed for David all along the way,” she said. “And now we can say, ‘Father David!’ ”

The celebration touched many lives, including Father Keegan’s older brother.

“It’s amazing,” said Kevin Keegan.

“Definitely very emotional watching something he’s prayed about and dedicated his life to, finally come to fruition,” he said.

Jan Balota, director of Christian formation and youth ministry at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Palm Coast, watched Father Timlin as he discerned his vocation before entering the seminary.

“To see this final day come after so long is just an incredible blessing,” said Balota.

“To be able to share in this celebration and to witness the joy on him and the whole community, our whole Catholic community,” said Balota, is what makes others want to continue pursuing their call from God.

“You see the hard work Father David and Philip put into it and what they want to do, and it just inspires you to answer God,” Balota explained.

Armon Antolin, a 21-year-old seminarian about to enter St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, said he felt just that.

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

“It’s hopeful!” Antolin said. “Ordinations are something to look forward to each year and hopefully, God willing, if I ever get to this point, it will be something for me to look forward to.”

Antolin was among the long lines of people waiting to receive a blessing from Fathers Timlin and Keegan during the reception, following the Mass.

“The church is still alive in our world,” said Antolin.

“It’s still prevalent. A lot of people are saying we’re getting too old, we’re getting too stagnant, but we’re not. We’re alive right now!”

Father Timlin’s mother hopes the new priests will continue to be a visible example of Christ for others.

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Scott Smith

“I hope they can become little lighthouses for young men to go to and mentor, in order to begin to walk through that discernment process,” said Kathy Timlin.

Fathers Keegan and Timlin celebrated their first Mass on Sunday, May 15. Father Keegan celebrated his at Assumption Catholic Church and Father Timlin at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, the church he grew up in.

Soon, they will begin serving at the parishes of their first assignment.

Bishop Estevez has appointed Father David Keegan parochial vicar at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Ponte Vedra Beach and Father Philip Timlin parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Jacksonville.

Click here, for the full text of Bishop Estévez’ ordination homily.