Two ordained to priesthood for diocese

CHARLESTON — Two seminarians were ordained priests for the Diocese of Charleston on June 3.

The Rev. Mr. Marcin Zahuta, a native of Poland, and the Rev. Mr. David A Runnion of Georgia were both ordained by Bishop Robert J. Baker in the presence of priests from around the diocese. Several hundred people gathered at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist for the moving and sacred ceremony.

The two men come from very different backgrounds but both felt a calling to serve God as priests throughout most of their lives.

Father Runnion, 58, is a native of Spartanburg and studied at Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Massachusetts. In the years before entering the seminary, he served in the U.S. Army and also worked as an attorney in the Georgia state attorney general’s office.

Father Zahuta, 28, studied at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich. He came to America from the city of Nowy Sacz in southern Poland. He said that one of his goals when deciding to become a priest was to be a missionary priest, committed to leaving Poland and serving God in whatever part of the world needed him most.

That theme was a central focus in Bishop Baker’s homily. He began by saying both men were coming “as missionaries to our diocese.”

The bishop related the duties that will face the two new priests to the challenges and responsibilities that first faced Franciscan missionaries who came more than 400 years ago to the area that would later become South Carolina.

“Some of the challenges that faced those first missionaries have remained with priests throughout the years,” he said. “They faced the challenge of living with different cultures, of speaking different languages.”

He told the congregation about the challenges Franciscans faced in living among the Native Americans. He said the differences in lifestyle, religious beliefs and in cultural mores regarding such things as marriage were great challenges to the priests who were trying to bring the Catholic faith to the New World.

Bishop Baker said that the Franciscans and other missionaries who came to South Carolina and elsewhere in North America eventually learned to do their work grounded in a “deeply profound faith in God nourished by a sustained life of prayer.”

“Teach what you believe, and practice what you teach so that by your example may you build up the House which is God’s Church,” the bishop said toward the conclusion of his homily.

“Strive to put to death whatever is sinful, and walk in the newness of life. Strive to bring the faithful together in one family, and keep before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd,” the bishop said. “May the Lord at the end of your lives say you came to the priesthood and stayed under the daily challenges … may you look back at a lifetime of serving the Lord with gratitude, grace and absolutely no regrets. Today you join those blessed ancestors of the Faith.”

Father Runnion and Father Zahuta were then formally welcomed as priests after the laying on of hands, vested with their stoles and chasubles from their fellow priests, and the anointing of their hands by the bishop.