Two men, two different backgrounds — ordained together as priests

Miscellany/Doug Deas: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone prays over Deacon Bruce Barnett during the ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston on June 7.

CHARLESTON—The Catholic Church received the gift of two new priests with the ordination of Father Bruce Barnett and Father Jimmy Touzeau on June 7 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone told the congregation that his heart was filled with gratitude and applause filled the church.

“It is such an honor to watch these two men transform from Reverend Mr. to Father,” he said.

In his homily, the bishop spoke directly to the men.

“Seek out those that are hurting,” he said. “We live in a society where hurt is commonplace. Show them your respect.”

He urged Fathers Barnett and Touzeau to let people know them and love them.

“We are all working together to build up the kingdom of the Lord. Teach what you believe and practice what you teach. Strive to bring the faithful together in one body,” he said.

After the homily, Bishop Guglielmone laid his hands on the ordinands heads in silence. The laying of the hands is rooted deep in Scripture, and signifies the conferral of the Holy Spirit. Over 30 priests were in attendance and they, too, laid their hands on the new priests, signifying incorporation into the presbyterate.

Fathers Barnett and Touzeau then received a round of fraternal hugs, and Bishop Guglielmone ended the ordination by thanking the new priests for “saying ‘yes’ to the calling of priesthood.”

“I want to thank both families and friends for nurturing their faith to help get them to this day,” he said. “We need priests so desperately in this ever-growing church. We need support and prayers to get there.”

Miscellany/Doug Deas: Deacons Jimmy Touzeau (center) and Bruce Barnett share a moment with Father Andrew Fryml before the start of their priestly ordination. Father Fryml is another new priest, having been ordained June 9, 2017.

Carl and Jessica Eisenmann of St. Louis, childhood friends of Father Touzeau, said they purposely sat their children front and center to watch the ordination.

“I wanted our boys to see and experience this up close,” Mrs. Eisenmann said. “We are so proud of Jimmy and I said to my boys, ‘this could be you one day.’”

Father Touzeau said he had always considered the possibility of the priesthood but it was many years before he felt truly called. He worked in the lumber mill industry for 12 years in West Union, S.C., and earned a degree in financial management from Clemson University. He didn’t receive his call to the priesthood until he started working for Holy Cross Church in Pickens as a pastoral assistant and full-time youth minister and then later on the faculty of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville.

“I really enjoyed working in the school and it was there that I answered the call to discern a vocation to the priesthood,” he said.

Father Barnett’s discernment path was even longer. Previously married, he received an annulment from the Church. After raising his daughters, he first considered becoming a deacon, and even entered into diaconate formation. He said he didn’t believe he could become a priest at his age, but “Jesus wouldn’t leave me alone.”

During the ordination, his family sat in the front row, with his daughters holding his hand.

“He is so happy and that makes us all so happy for him,” said Christine Barnett, his sister.

Father Barnett is retired from Bosch, with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering. He attended seminary school at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

Father Touzeau attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas. He will serve as parochial vicar at St. Joseph Church in Columbia.

“I want to serve the people of the Diocese of Charleston,” Father Touzeau said after the ordination. “I am a native son of South Carolina. This is my home, and I am ecstatic to get started at my first parish.”

Father Barnett is also ready to begin his service. He will be parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton.

“I just can’t wait to get started. There was so much joy and optimism in that church. You could feel it. I felt intense power and grace. It was real. There was just so much love,” he said.

See more photos in the June 20 edition of The Catholic Miscellany:

By Theresa Stratford/Special to The Miscellany