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Brother Jonathan, VS, ordained by Bishop Peter to diaconate

The following story appeared in the March 24 Idaho Catholic Register.

Bishop Peter Christensen lays his hands on the head of Brother Jonathan Kilkelly, VS, ordaining him to the Order of the Diaconate at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on March 19. The diaconate is the final step before being ordained to the priesthood. Brother Jonathan is a member of the Verbum Spei Fraternity based at Our Lady of Ephesus Monastery in Boise. (ICR photo/Emily Woodham)

By Emily Woodham

Staff Writer

Matthew Kilkelly flew more than 18 hours from New Zealand to be in Boise for the transitional diaconate ordination of his son, Brother Jonathan Kilkelly of the Verbum Spei (“Word of Hope”) community.

When asked what he thought of his son’s ordination, Matthew replied, in sign language, “Wonderful!” Matthew, who is deaf, taught Jonathan and his six siblings sign language when they were young children.

“It was beautiful to watch Brother Jonathan interpret the ceremony to his dad, so that he could know what was being said,” said Ginger Mortensen, who attended the ordination.

Brother Jonathan’s mother, Gabriel, was unable to attend due to her need to care for her sister and young children still at home. “She’s a saint,” Brother Jonathan said, whose two sisters are also in a religious community, Sisters of Mary Morningstar.

About 250 gathered at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Boise for the ordination on March 19.

Brother Jonathan was ordained by Bishop Peter Christensen. He concelebrated the Mass with Father Wandrille Sevin, the general superior for the worldwide Fraternity of Verbum Spei; Father Dominque Fauré, the prior for the Verbum Spei community at Our Lady of Ephesus monastery in Boise, and Father Johannes Kamphuis, V.S.

Brother Jonathan thanks many who played role in his journey

After his ordination, Deacon Jonathan thanked so many involved in his spiritual journey, beginning with a quote from mystic Marthe Robin: “Each soul has pages in its life unknown to itself which are written by the merits, the prayers, the penances and the sufferings of other souls.” There are so many, he said, who have played a part in the path of his life. “I am immensely grateful to God and to the Blessed Virgin Mary for each one of you. Thank you for being instruments of God for me and for all the love and mercy you have shown me.”

He thanked Bishop Peter for being a father to the Verbum Spei Brothers and to himself. “We truly appreciate all you do for us, and we consider ourselves very blessed to be so close to you,” he said to Bishop Peter.

Brother Jonathan with his father, Matthew Kilkelly, who came from New Zealand to attend the ordination of his son to the diaconate by Bishop Peter Christensen at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Because Matthew Kilkelly is hearing-impaired, Brother Jonathan signed the Bishop’s homily to him. (ICR photo/Emily Woodham)

He thanked his Verbum Spei Brothers for their example in prayer, patience and mercy. He thanked the religious Sisters who have been guardians of his vocation by their prayers. He thanked his parents and grandparents for their unconditional love and for teaching him to love God before all else. He signed his thanks to his hearing-impaired dad for his being there, for his faithfulness to God and to his family.

He also thanked Father Dominique, the Prior and mentor at Our Lady of Ephesus Monastery. “Thank you for being so selfless in your care for me and my vocation and in your sharing of wisdom with me and the Brothers. You have given us everything,” he said.

Bishop Peter, during his homily, echoed Deacon Jonathan’s gratitude to Father Dominique. “The Diocese of Boise is so grateful for your presence among us,” he said. “You and your brothers have given us all a profound gift by your life and prayer, allowing us to grow in the goodness of God’s presence among us through your commitment to serve as the living Word of Hope, as made so visible in each of you.”

Baptism opens eyes to a new vision of life

The Bishop urged Brother Jonathan to “know that you were chosen from all time to be dedicated into the service of the Lord as His dear companion, as were His first disciples. He has planned for your participation in bearing witness to His saving works through the sacrament of your ordination and the sacraments you will offer.”

“Because of baptism, your life is seen differently,” the Bishop said. “The way with which we think about our life and death is filled with a greater sense of hope and meaning. We sense ever more clearly the closeness of the One to whom we ultimately belong. The friends we keep are of greater value; they help us on the journey. The worship we give directs our focus heavenward. The desires we have are to serve God and others, recognizing the inherent value, the dignity of every human life.”

“The greatest pleasure that can be known is to know that we are loved by God and can serve Him as his instruments for his plan for the world, to assist our brothers and sisters on their journey to eternal salvation,” the Bishop said. “Our Lord will use you to do great things for His people.”

Baptism, healing and service were themes in the Gospel reading (John 9:1-41) for the Mass, which was the story of Jesus healing a man who was born blind.

“In the Gospel, we see Jesus moving as light through a dimmed world of understanding and sight,” Bishop Peter said. Jesus healed the man, although he did not ask to be healed. “Perhaps he did not ask for healing because he thought his ailment was beyond reach,” he said.

In Jesus’ time, saliva was thought to have healing properties. Jesus’ use of saliva to make clay recalls the original creation of humanity as described in the book of Genesis, the Bishop said, noting that when Jesus mixed his saliva with the dirt, he was giving of his very self in the clay. “How incarnational! How powerful!” he said, noting also that Jesus gives of His very self in His body and blood in the Eucharist.

After putting the clay on the man’s eyes, Jesus told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam, which means “sent.”

“The man washed, is able to see, and was sent forward,” he said, pointing out that this washing recalls our baptism


The vision given the blind man is two-fold, seeing the life around him and gaining a vision of eternal life in which another, greater reality has entered his world. “Life has greater meaning than ever previously imagined because he has been touched, not only by a prophet, but the very Son of God, Jesus Christ the Messiah.”

The greatness of the miracle causes the man to worship, highlighting that his restored sight is far superior than that of the Pharisees. “The Pharisees expel the blind man, but Jesus welcomes him with the light of faith. And the healed man receives the gift.”

“Jesus comes to us today, and we come to Him unaware of what He is able to do,” the Bishop said. “He stoops down and offers us healing, recalling the original order of our Creation as modeled out of clay by our loving God.” God’s creation, though blinded by sin, is washed anew in the waters of baptism, a sacrament that allows us to see with eyes that focus on more than this world alone. “Je-sus opens our eyes to God’s presence among us in the here and now and forever.”

Three Verbum Spei Brothers are installed as lectors

Before Brother Jonathan’s ordination to the Diaconate, Brothers John Paul O’Sullivan, Joseph Smith and Thomas Fransen, all of whom are also from New Zealand, were installed as lectors in the Rite of Lector at the Mass.

As lectors, they are given the privilege to proclaim the Word of God at Mass.

This is a first step toward ordination to the priesthood.

The ministry of a lector is powerful, because the Word of God is loving, Bishop Peter said.

“By your proclamation of the Word, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will help to make the eyes of others see ever more clearly God’s presence among men, leading them on the path made visible toward their eternal life in Heaven.”

Brother Joseph’s parents, Peter and Marietta Smith, also travelled from New Zealand for the occasion.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.

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