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Cintra, Segert ordained to priesthood

The following story appeared in the June 23 Idaho Catholic Register.

Newly ordained Father Timothy Segert receives the paten and chalice from Bishop Peter Christensen, while Seminarian Ian Willnerd and Father Francisco Flores, pastor at Pope St. John Paul II Parish in Idaho Falls, assist during the “Handing Over of the Bread and Wine.” (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

By Gene Fadness


BOISE – During the ordination Mass for Timothy Segert and Nelson Cintra, Father Mark Uhlenkott, an emcee for the Mass, motioned for then-Deacon Cintra to step forward to kneel before the Bishop who would ask him, “Do you resolve to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and, with Him, to consecrate yourself to God for the salvation of all?”

“Are you ready,” Father Uhlenkott whispered to Cintra.

“No,” Cintra responded, half-joking.

Of course, both Cintra and Segert went on to be ordained by Bishop Peter Christensen during a standing-room only Mass on June 8 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Afterward, Father Cintra has had more time to reflect on that interaction with Father Uhlenkott.

“I came to understand that that was a moment of self-surrender,” Father Cintra told the Idaho Catholic Register.

“We both knew we were kidding, but as I reflected on that moment over the following days, I noticed there was something deeper at play. Of course, I was not ready! Who could possibly be ready to become a priest of Jesus Christ?”

Bishop Peter receives the first blessing from newly ordained Father Nelson Cintra. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

“God does not ask us to be ready,” he said. “It’s about being willing. The response is not ‘Yes, I’m ready,’ but ‘I do, with the help of God.’ ”

Always introspective, Father Cintra said he told himself, “I’m going to step forward anyway and the Church is going to lift me up these (Cathedral) steps, I’m going to kneel, and then the Bishop, representing the Lord, is going to turn me into someone else. It doesn’t matter whether I’m ready or not. What matters is that God is ready, and I all have to do is say yes.”

During his homily, Bishop Peter told both young men that, as a result of their ordination, they would, in fact, be someone else.

“You will be changed, not just superficially, but ontologically. A new identity is given to you this day.”

Priesthood is not so much what one does, but who one is, the Bishop said.

“It’s not a mission of simply word and instruction, not a perfunctory mission, but a mission of being,” he said.

Father Nelson Cintra gives a First Blessing to a family after the ordination. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

The Bishop defined a priest who is only perfunctory as one who is superficial and mechanical, who performs his priestly duties in a way that is “apathetic, casual, complacent, disinterested and indifferent.” Priesthood is not a formula or a designed program that shows just external attributes to enhance a role, he said. “Rather, priesthood is the living reality of a true, vulnerable relationship lived daily in union with the Lord.”

“Jesus invites you now into His very life and ministry in order to do the same works that He does out of obedience that He offers to his heavenly Father,” the Bishop said.

Bishop Peter pours oil over the hands of Father Tim Segert during the “Anointing of Hands.” Top right, Father Nelson Cintra gives a First Blessing to a family after the ordination. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

SEGERT SENSED THAT that ontological change twice during the Ordination Mass – at the laying on of hands by the Bishop and his fellow priests and when the Bishop anointed his hands.

During that part of the liturgy, the Bishop pours oil over the priest’s hands and says, “The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, guard and preserve you, that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God.”

“It’s an anointing of the priest’s hands, hands that will consecrate the Eucharist,” Father Segert said. “That’s why, afterward, people will come up and kiss the priest’s hands because they are kissing Jesus’ hands.”

“When I was having my hands anointed, it was like I was looking at someone else’s hands,” Father Segert said. “I had a very keen sense of that. I felt almost disconnected, like someone else’s hands were attached to me.”

Also, at the laying on of hands, Father Segert said, “I could feel spiritual power being imparted.”

During the Litany of Supplication, the elect for ordination prostrate themselves as the congregation chants the Litany of Saints. “A lot of those saints we handpicked to be added to the Litany,” Father Cintra said. The Cathedral of St. John the Evanglist in Boise had standing room only during the ordination Mass. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

FATHER CINTRA WAS deeply moved, he said, during that portion of the liturgy when

the future priests are prostrate on the ground as the congregation prays the Litany of the Saints, asking the intercession of so many saints over their ministry. “A lot of those saints we hand-picked to be added to the Litany,” Father Cintra said.

He felt that same strength from saints both in heaven and on earth during the first Mass he celebrated at Holy Apostles Parish, less than 24 hours after being ordained.

“At that Mass there were so many people who have supported me over the years,” Father Cintra said. “It was a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy to have them there, praying for me.”

Priests, including former classmates of Father Cintra, and two faculty members from Mount Angel Seminary made the journey to Boise to attend the ordination and that first Mass. “A lot of people, including the musicians and the choir, worked really hard on that.” The music, selected by Cintra, was written by a music director at the seminary. “It was so beautiful. I wanted it to last forever, definitely a foretaste of heaven.”

Nelson Cintra, left, and Timothy Segert kneel before the Litany of the Saints is prayed. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)

FATHER SEGERT FELT the intercession of one saint in a more powerful way than he could have imagined.

Before the ordination started, Segert asked two friends, Father Tom Keller and Bill Green, to pray over him. “One of them felt called to give me his first-class relic of St. Catherine of Siena.”

Later, when Segert arrived at the ordination, he told Bishop Peter about the unexpected gift.

“No kidding,” the Bishop responded. I have three quotes from her in my homily.”

If that were not enough, how Green got the relic is a story in itself.

Green, the director of the newly acquired Camp St. John Paul II and a garage sale aficionado, decided to go to a yard sale after he got off work from St. Ignatius School, where he is a chef. “I was still in my chef’s uniform with the St. Ignatius badge and a crucifix.”

An older, very frail lady asked Green if he was Catholic. When Green told her he was, she handed him a wooden box lined with velvet.

“I have something I need to give you,” she said.

Inside was a crucifix with a bone from St. Catherine of Siena at its center, a first-class relic. The woman’s sister was a nun who kept the relic in her pocket for 40 years. The nun had recently passed away, leaving the relic to her sister, who was not a Catholic and had no idea the value of what she possessed. “She was waiting for the first opportunity to give it to a Catholic,” Green said.

“I showed it to Father Keller and told him that I didn’t think I was supposed to keep it.” Father Keller told him that an opportunity would present itself for him to give the relic to the party for whom it was intended.

Chef Bill Green returned to his apartment at Our Lady of Ephesus Monastery, when a slightly anxious Segert, about to be ordained, knocked on his door asking Green and Keller to pray over him. “Something told me to get the relic and put on his heart. His whole body relaxed. He was receiving; it was beautiful. I looked at him and said, ‘Tim, this is yours.’ ”

“I didn’t have a devotion to her before,” Father Segert said. “But I guess now I know who the patroness of my priesthood is.”

After Bishop Peter conveys the “Laying on of Hands” to the elect for the priesthood, each of the priests in attendance at the ordination also conveys the laying on of hands. After the laying on of hands, the priests stand with the Bishop during the Prayer of Ordination. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

FATHER CINTRA’S closing remarks at the ordination were brief, yet pointed: “You have all led me to the heart of the Father. My only prayer is that I can do the same for you.”

After the ordination, Father Cintra hit the road, celebrating Masses and hearing confessions in parishes that were instrumental to his formation: Buhl, Arco, Salmon, Nampa, Potlatch, Moscow, Coeur d’Alene and Marymount Hermitage.

Father Cintra’s mother, Nalita, and her cousin, John. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)

At one place, he heard confessions for three hours. “It may be tiring at times, but it’s really special for people to know that there’s no barrier” between them and Christ. An interesting change of mind from the college-aged Nelson Cintra in his native Brazil who said he picked what he liked about Catholicism and ignored what he didn’t like, especially confession. “I went to Mass when it was convenient. But, confession? I’d rather watch ‘South Park’ and laugh at other people’s sins instead of face my own,” he wrote.

Father Cintra will serve as parochial vicar at St. John Paul II Parish in Idaho Falls, not far from Arco, Idaho, where Cintra was first introduced to Idaho as an employee of a private boarding school for at-risk youth.

“It’s hard for me to imagine a better assignment with the pastor and associate there and so many families I know already.”

Father Cintra is embraced by Father Chase Hasenoehrl, pastor at St. Augustine’s Catholic Center is Moscow. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)

AT THE CONCLUSION of the ordination Mass, Father Segert thanked the Holy Trinity and his family, devout Baptists, who he credits for leading him to faith in Jesus Christ.

“It’s a great day to be here. It’s a great day to be a Christian, and it’s a great day to be a Catholic priest,” he said.

Segert, raised in an evangelical home, was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ during his college years at Boise State. Then he started dating a Catholic girl, who was not only committed to her faith, but was a convert from a Protestant background. That intrigued him because the converts he knew were converts from Catholicism to Protestantism. He asked her to share with him what caused her to change her faith tradition. That’s when the books started coming. As soon as he would finish one, she would have another, many from noted Catholic converts like Dr. Scott Hahn and Peter Kreeft.

Father Timothy Segert’s parents watch the Ordination. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)

He started attending St. Paul’s on the BSU campus, looking around to make sure no one was watching as he entered. Sitting in the chapel, the intellectual conversion he was already experiencing in his mind from all those books was turning into a spiritual conversion of heart.

“I remember feeling someone present in there (the chapel). I knew it was Christ. I knew it was a good presence. I remember saying to myself, ‘This is the Christ I already know.’ ”

Because of the witness of that one friend and then the students at St. Paul’s Center, the life of this one priest now begins to impact the lives of countless others.

Father Segert, who will serve as a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, describes his ordination is “surreal,” after so many years of wearing the collar and so many people mistaking him for a priest. “For so long, I’ve had to correct them and tell them I’m not a priest. But, now, I can say I am a priest.”

Changed forever. A priest forever.

Fathers Segert and Cintra step out of the Cathedral’s doors to the applause of the crowd waiting below. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)


--HEBREWS 7:17

Top left, Jake Ineck directs the choir at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Top right, Father Segert is embraced by Father Ben Uhlenkott, pastor of Risen Christ Parish in Boise, after Father Uhlenkott vested the new priest. Father Uhlenkott was Segert’s pastor for a brief period at St. Mark’s Parish in Boise. Lower left, Bishop Peter Christensen begins the celebration of the Eucharist while Father Timothy Segert, left, and Father Nelson Cintra concelebrate. Lower right, Brothers from Verbum Spei of Our Lady of Ephesus Monastery in Boise provide sacred chant during the ordination Mass. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)

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