Former top student and Andover native Father Louis Melahn was one of 44 priests ordained in Rome recently.
Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., the Papal Delegate for the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, ordained 44 Legionaries of Christ in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, during a ceremony attended by about 3000 friends and family members.
In his homily, the Cardinal pointed out how, given the recent history of the Legion, these 44 new priests become “a witness of grace that pardons, renews, creates a new heart, comforts, and gives hope” and “a great gift to the Church through the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.”
Among the new priests, who are between 29 and 39 years of age and come from twelve different countries, 11 are from United States, and 1 each from England and Puerto Rico.
The Americans include a pair of brothers of Vietnamese background from Georgia, Fathers Jason and Peter Huynh. The other Americans are Fathers John Pietropaoli (New York), Mark Thelen (Michigan), Michael Moriarty (Kansas), Ronald Conklin (Texas), Jeremy Lambert (Georgia), Brian Coe (Maryland), Stephen Dardis (Louisiana), Louis Melahn (Massachusetts), and Andrew Dalton (Georgia). Father Juan José Hernández Rodríguez was the first Legionary priest from Puerto Rico.
The words of the Cardinal were focused on the need of each man and woman to meet Christ, and the priest as God’s answer to this need. “We need priests because we need Christ,” he said, “and Christ is the man that all people of every time and place need to meet to reach the truth about God and themselves, and to find happiness and the meaning of life.”
The Papal Delegate for the Legion of Christ offered the young men being ordained a very positive vision of their own weakness, which can make them “witnesses of divine grace.” “The priest experiences his own weakness and fragility. This experience is healthy, if it brings him to the only one who can give him the grace of fidelity, of love and total self-giving,” De Paolis said.
About the meaning of these 44 new priests in the recent history of the Legion of Christ, the Cardinal gave a clear and direct word of hope and confidence in grace at the end of the homily. “Dear young men, you are members of the Legion of Christ, a religious congregation which has had to confront a particularly difficult moment in its own history,” he told them. “This history has been marked by sin, by discouragement, perhaps even dejection and humiliation. As Saint Paul says, you have been afflicted from every side.” He added, “But you have advanced. You did not lose heart. You have persevered in your vocation. You believed in the one who called you. You believed in grace. For grace, everything is possible.”
About Father Louis Melahn
Father Louis Melahn, L.C., was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on March 16, 1978, and grew up in the neighboring town of Andover. In 1996, he graduated first in his class from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he majored in biology, specializing in biochemistry, and graduated magna cum laude in 2000. He entered the Legionaries of Christ as a novice in 2001, making his first profession in Cornwall, Ontario, in 2003, and his perpetual profession in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2009. He obtained a bachelor’s in philosophy and theology from the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical College, and is currently studying there for a licentiate in bioethics