GREENVILLE—South Carolina’s faithful have two new priests to show them the way of the Gospel.
Father Richard Wilson and Father Roger Morgan were ordained by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone May 29 before hundreds who packed the pews at St. Mary Church in Greenville.
Thirty-eight priests from the diocese attended the ceremony to support their new brothers in ministry. There were also visiting priests from St. Mary Seminary in Houston, where they both completed their studies. Family members and friends of the men turned out to share their important day.
Bishop Guglielmone thanked them for their hard work and for following God’s call to the priesthood.
Both Father Wilson and Father Morgan had other careers before beginning their seminary studies, and in his homily the bishop reminded them of the new lives they were about to begin.
“God changes you and you commit yourself to the Lord in a unique way,” he said. “You will work together to be ambassadors for Christ … God’s disciples must consider themselves as servants who give their lives away, just as He gave His life away. God calls us to give ourselves away to the people He brings into our lives.”
He urged them to face their responsibilities with love and happiness.
“Always walk in the newness of life,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “Carry out the ministry of Christ the priest with constant joy and genuine love, exercising the concern of Jesus Christ … keep in mind the example of the Good Shepherd, who came to seek out what was lost, to serve and not be served.”
Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary, vested Father Morgan with the stole and chasuble during the ordination. Father James Dubrouillet vested Father Wilson.
The two begin their ministry after long spiritual journeys that started with conversion to the Catholic faith, Father Wilson’s in 1998 and Father Morgan’s in 2004.
Father Wilson, 63, grew up in Minnesota and retired from two previous careers, first as a colonel in the U.S. Army and then 15 years as a financial advisor serving clients in the Upstate.
He was raised Lutheran but became Catholic after extensive study and prayer led him to realize it was the true way to follow Christ. He felt called to the priesthood but spent several years in discernment before beginning his studies in 2009 at Blessed John XVIII Seminary in Massachusetts, then transferring to St. Mary’s.
“I never thought when I was growing up that I would be a Catholic priest,” Father Wilson said. “Now that I am a priest, I believe God will use all my life experiences to help me understand someone else’s experience, to more effectively minister to others and help people.”
Father Morgan, 41, grew up in the Upstate, graduated from culinary school and worked as a cook in Atlanta, Minnesota and Texas. He was not religious in his youth, but was searching for God when he found the Catholic Church while living in Texas. He joined the faith in 2004 and felt the call to the priesthood almost immediately, he said.
“It’s been a long journey but I’m glad to have gotten here,” he said. “For the past 10 years the driving desire of my life was to be a priest … Since I grew up outside the Church, I realize the nagging sense of sadness that comes when you don’t have God in your life. You experience gratitude when you knowingly turn to God, and now I want to help others grow close to Him.”
Members of both mens’ families sat at the front of the church during the ceremony and gathered around them at the reception held later in Gallivan Hall.
Father Morgan’s mother, Brenda Morgan of Greenville, beamed as she talked about the beauty of the liturgy.
“It’s just wonderful that he is a priest — I’m so excited and I’m so proud,” she said. “I’m just thrilled for him that he has found God.”
His first Mass was at St. Mary in Greenville on May 31, which was Trinity Sunday. It was a special milestone, he said, because it was the church where he was ordained, and ten years before, on Trinity Sunday in 2005, he first walked into St. Mary because it was close to his new address.
He has been assigned to Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in North Myrtle Beach.
Five of Father Wilson’s eight siblings and several nieces and nephews flew in from the Midwest to be with him. He also was happy to see friends from his Army days and from when he worked as a financial advisor.
Laurie Duden, his sister from Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, said her brother will likely succeed in his new calling because “he’s done well at everything he tries.”
“He’s a very kind and empathetic person and he’s very open to working with all kinds of people,” she said.
Father Wilson celebrated his first Mass on May 30 at his home parish, St. Joseph Church in Anderson. He has been assigned to St. Joseph Church in Columbia and will start work there on June 9.
These were the last two priests to be ordained under the guidance of Father Jeffrey Kirby in his service as vicar of vocations for the diocese. His term concludes on June 30 and he will be followed in that role by Father Mark Good.