Archdiocese ordains two priests facing “unprecedented” times for church

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, center, is flanked by newly ordained Father Cameron Pollette, left, and Father Nicholas Case, right, on June 19 at St. Mary’s Cathedral. (Photo by Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco)

Christina Gray

Catholic San Francisco

Nicholas Case and Cameron Pollette were ordained to the priesthood June 19 at St. Mary’s Cathedral by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who in his Ordination Mass homily said that the two young priests enter a “dark and unbelieving world” like the one Jesus and his apostles confronted when they set out to spread the Good News, “a world that hated them.”

“This is the world for which our brothers Nick and Cameron are being ordained,” the archbishop said to those gathered together for a public ordination at the cathedral for the first time in two years.  It’s a world to which they don’t belong, he said, echoing Jesus’ own words, but a “vocation to which God called them from even before He formed them in the womb.”

The archbishop said Father Pollette and Father Case are being sent into a world where they do not belong “to transform it into a place where Christ may find a home.”

The morning Mass was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus William J. Justice, members of the College of Consultors, Father Mark Doherty, rector of St. Patrick Seminary & University, and six guests of the newly ordained men: Father Mark Mazza, Father Joseph Illo, Father Patrick Driscoll, Father Benjamin Rosado, Father Kevin Kennedy and Father Neil Healy.

Aside from those mentioned above who were fully vested and sat in the sanctuary, there were other concelebrating priests that were not fully vested and who sat in the pews during the Mass.

Archbishop Cordileone said Father Pollette and Father Cameron face “unprecedented” times in the church as it faces multiple challenges: bringing people back to Mass and parish life after the pandemic closed down churches for almost a year, a growing number of Catholics who “no longer believe core Catholic teachings,” such as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and what it means to receive him in holy Communion, and more Catholics disaffiliating and “losing faith altogether.”

“We see not only apathy, but ever increasing hostility toward religion and the practice of religious faith in the public square,” he said. “Yes, the world hated our Lord – hates our Lord – and so will it hate all those who look like him.”

The rite of ordination begins with the promises of the elect, who take a vow of willingness to accept priestly duties, pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, lead a celibate life, and obey the archbishop and his successors. The litany of supplication follows, whereby the men lie prostrate before the altar, a visually symbolic gesture of their surrender to and dependence upon the will of God.

The imposition of hands and the prayers of consecration are the heart of the ordination rite.  In the ancient sacramental sign of the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the archbishop and priests placed their hands upon the men. Moments later the archbishop intoned the prayers of consecration.

Father Case and Father Pollette were then vested in a chasuble and stole, the vestments which represent the priesthood. The archbishop anointed their hands with Holy Chrism as a sign of the Holy Spirit which gives these priests a share in the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ to sanctify, shepherd, and teach His people.

Father Nicholas Case will serve as associate pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Burlingame, and as priest-chaplain for Junipero Serra High School. Father Case, who served as director of religious education at St. Anselm Parish in Ross before completing his theological studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, celebrated his first Mass as a priest with his former parish the day after his ordination.

“It was so powerful to return home and meet again so many people who were instrumental in my vocation,” he said. “I look forward to many years of ministry in the archdiocese.” 

Karen and Bob Case told Catholic San Francisco they were “proud and moved to see our son ordained as a priest. We are excited with him as he enters into his new ministry.”

Father Daniel Holgren went to seminary in Rome with Father Case and flew in for the ordination of his friend and fellow classmate only a week after his own June 11 ordination in the Diocese of San Diego. He said he was fortunate to be there as Father Case ends one journey and begins another.

“The day was a culmination of his formation and development which gives great hope to the church,” he told Catholic San Francisco. “He is officially going into his ministry to help change and form lives.”

“It will probably take a lifetime to unpack and appreciate fully all the graces that our good God showered upon us on Saturday,” said Father Pollette, a San Francisco native who has been assigned to St. Veronica Parish in South San Francisco. 

“I want to express my thanks for the tremendous support that everyone has shown me, in particular for all the Masses and prayers that have been offered on my behalf,” he said. “May it please God to make me a good and faithful priest, so that I might always labor to serve Him and His people.”

Though Father Cameron’s family was not Catholic, his mother took her young son on tours of various churches as a child. The Catholic churches captivated him even then.

“I am consumed with joy at the ordination of our son and the contribution of his life to the church,” said Pamela Pollette, speaking also for Father Pollette’s father, Ross. “God bless everyone who supported him through his journey.”

Father Cameron Faller, vocations director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco and ordained himself only six years ago, said he is grateful to have two new priests to serve the Body of Christ in the archdiocese.

“I look forward to their fruitful ministry and serving with them as a brother priest,” he said.