Bishop Joseph Bambera will ordain two men as priests this Sunday, one at the age when most people are considering retiring, one less than half that. It’s the first ordination ceremony in the Diocese of Scranton since 2016.
Edward Casey, of Archbald, has been serving as a permanent deacon since 1989 at Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Carbondale, and spent more than 40 years with Catholic Social Services in the diocese. At 65, he’s not only at typical retirement age, he is retired. He left the agency in 2015.
Ryan Glenn, on the other hand, has followed a more traditional route to the priesthood, pretty much going from high school through seminary training. Now 29, the Mountain Top native graduated from Crestwood High School in 2007, earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and philosophy from King’s College in 2011, and earned his master of divinity from the University of Notre Dame in 2014 as a seminarian. He finished his priesthood preparation at St. Mary’s Seminary and the University of Baltimore.
The age difference actually meant different training. The Rev. Donald Williams, director of vocations and seminarians for the diocese, said that “in general, our policy is we don’t accept candidates after age 50,” but that that Casey is “a very unique case” because of his time as a deacon and long association with the diocese.
“There’s a special program at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., for guys seeking second careers as priests, for widowers, or those who have never been married and may be a bit older than the seminarians we usually get.”
While Casey has been active as a deacon and diocesan employee for decades, Glenn comes to the priesthood from a much more secular background. He said he attended public schools through high school. In fact, despite having parents who taught religious classes at St. Jude’s Church, he didn’t attend the diocesan school that sits behind his lifelong parish. Nor does he have any family members who opted for a life in a religious order.
So how did he come to the calling of the priesthood in an age when so few seem to consider that path? “My family was very involved at St. Jude,” he explained. “I got to know the priests there and they were men who were faithful and were just good-hearted priests.
“For me, looking back, they kind of showed me priests weren’t these other-worldly guys. They were very human and relatable. I could see myself in that role.”
Now, after many years of preparation, he will see himself in that role. And while priest ordinations have become a comparatively rare event in the diocese — the diocesan seminary in Dalton was closed more than a decade ago after attendance dropped from more than 100 in the 1970s to single digits — Glenn said he is not nervous about the ceremony.
“Right now I feel a great sense of peace. I’ve had so many years of praying and discerning, and so many people have walked with me on the way,” he said. “It’s really humbling.”
Bambera will be principal celebrant for the morning ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Scranton. Con-celebrants will include Bishop Emeritus James Timlin, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus John Dougherty, Diocesan Vicar General Monsignor Thomas Muldowny, Diocesan Secretary for Clergy Formation Monsignor David Bohr, Episcopal Vicar for clergy The Rev. Jeffrey Walsh, the Very Rev. Brian Kiely of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts, and The Rev. Philip Brown of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish