WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING TO
THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SANTA FE
THE ORDINATION TO THE
SACRED PRIESTHOOD OF
JEFFREY N. STEENSON
THOUGH THE IMPOSITION OF HANDS AND THE INVOCATION OF THE
BY HIS EXCELLENCY
MICHAEL J. SHEEHAN
ARCHBISHOP OF SANTA FE
SATURDAY,THE TWENTY-FIRST OF FEBRUARY,TWO THOUSAND AND NINE
AT TEN-THIRTY O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING AT ST.THOMAS AQUINAS CATHOLIC CHURCH, RIO RANCHO, NM
Jeffrey M. Steenson will be new to the Roman Catholic priesthood, but not new to our Lord’s vineyard. When ordained February 21, 2009 by Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of the Santa Fe Diocese of New Mexico, Steenson will continue a faith adventure that still astounds him.
It was much more than the divisions within the Anglican Church over issues such as the affirmation of the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop, and the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first female presiding bishop, that coaxed the then Bishop Steenson onto a new path. These issues were monumentally troubling to his church and he was himself, “deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading.” Bishop Schori had also blessed same-sex unions. Though grave, still more important issues than these motivated his faith journey to the Roman Catholic Church. No less than the Fathers of the Church held great sway in this matter of faith, conscience and desire.
Before he even entered the ministry, Jeff thought about entering the Roman Catholic Church. One of his professors, a nun, did a very good job showing him that the early Church looked and was as it continues to be very Roman Catholic. She also pointed out that she thought he might have a vocation to the priesthood but he was married and so that was then not to be. Years passed, Jeff became an priest and then a bishop in the Anglican Church .
The Church Fathers still sounded Roman Catholic but life got very complicated. It took the powerful personage of the inimitable Pope John Paul II to re-ignite his Catholic leanings. He made a promise to himself that he would revisit his Catholic inclinations and act if that meant becoming a Roman Catholic. Acting on the promise was tougher and so a bit late in being fulfilled. He meant to act while JPII was still alive, and not doing so troubled him, but life as Rt. Rev Steenson of the Rio Grande Diocese of the Anglican Church made serious decisions too serious to rush. Prayer, study, meetings and mentors, more prayer and more study, soon demanded that conscience be honored. The promise he made to himself ended with his resignation as bishop. This was not without pain. There were explanations to be given and loose ends, at all ends. In his customary gentle manner, Jeff reached out as best he could to make clear with persuasive reason and Patristic history the underpinnings of his choice.
Happily, eventually the sun did shine on the road ahead for Jeff and his wife, who shared these dilemmas and discoveries. Soon came his entry into the Roman Catholic Church. and now, more promises to be made, the promises of the sacred priesthood. Jeff goes forward carrying his faith-filled past in his heart, grateful for loved ones in his Anglican Church family and his beloved deep Anglican roots. At this, a new beginning on a continuing faith journey, may God bless Jeffrey Steenson and his family.