New priests start assignments Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jul. 16, 2020 -- 12:00 AM
Priesthood Ordinations
Newly ordained priests, from left: Fr. Michael Johnson, Fr. Tim Mergen, Fr. Vince Racanelli, and Fr. Enan Zelinski stand in the sanctuary during their Ordination Mass on June 26 at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison. It was the largest ordination class in the Diocese of Madison since 2015. To view or purchase photos, go to
(Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- Four men -- newly ordained priests -- have started living out their calls to the priesthood.

They are Fr. Michael Johnson, Fr. Tim Mergen, Fr. Vincent Racanelli, and Fr. Enan Zelinski.

They were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison on June 26 at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison.

This past weekend, the time of new priest assignments taking effect, the new priests started serving in their respective parishes.

For Father Johnson, that meant serving as parochial vicar at St. Bernard and St. Henry Parishes Watertown.

Father Mergen began his time at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Monroe as its parochial vicar.

Father Racanelli started his assignment as parochial vicar at St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee and St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Westport.

Father Zelinski participated in his first Masses as parochial vicar at St. Cecilia Parish in Wisconsin Dells.

Ordination night

The evening of their ordinations was a night of conclusions and beginnings.

The night of June 26 marked the ends of their discernment journeys, their prayerful considerations whether to say “yes” to God’s call to the priesthood and live out that call.

The night also marked the beginning of fully living out that call as a priest.

By the end of the Mass, these men would be changed forever as priests “in the line of Melchizedek.”

During past ordinations, St. Maria Goretti Church was full, near standing room only, with people who came to be a part of the holy events taking place.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the church could only be at half of its capacity — about 600.

During his homily, Bishop Hying said, “Tonight fills us with tremendous joy and gratitude. Throughout all these months of COVID, whenever things have been difficult, I’ve thought to myself, ‘But on June 26, we’ll have four new priests.’

“Whenever it’s been a challenge, I think God is doing something tremendous.

“When I look at the young men who have come forward saying ‘present,’ not just physically present, but fully present — fully present to God to do his will for the rest of their lives as priests — it stirs our hearts. And we give thanks and praise to God for that.”

Ordination rites

Following Bishop Hying’s homily, the four men each made their promises as a priest.

He asked the men if they “promise respect and obedience to me and my successors,” to which they all responded, “I do.”

“May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment,” Bishop Hying added.

The men then lay prostrate on the floor, dying to their selves and rising to new life during the Litany of Supplication, while a litany of saints was sung.

Next, came the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination. Bishop Hying placed his hands on their heads, conferring upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit. Priests in attendance then took turns also laying their hands on their heads.

The newly ordained were then vested with a stole and chasuble.

Father Johnson was vested by Fr. Michael Radowicz, pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Madison.

Father Mergen was vested by Fr. John Silva, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spring Green and St. Luke Parish in Plain.

Father Racanelli was vested by Fr. Eric Nielsen, pastor of St. Paul University Catholic Center in Madison.

Father Zelinski was vested by Fr. Brian Wilk, pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Middleton.

The bishop then anointed the hands of the new priests with Sacred Chrism and their hands were then wrapped in the maniturgia.

Following this rite, the bishop presented the new priests with a chalice and paten and said, “Receive the oblation of the holy people to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.”

Bishop Hying gave each of the new priests a sign of peace, as did the priests of the diocese and priest-guests in attendance.

First blessings

Toward the end of the Mass, the newly ordained gave their first blessings to Bishop Hying.

“One of the prerogatives of being the ordaining bishop,” Bishop Hying said, “is to receive the blessing of the newly ordained priests. It’s a great privilege and joy for me to do so . . . from these four exceptional young men that God has called to the priesthood . . . I joyfully kneel before them and ask the Lord to bless me and to bless our diocese.”

The four new priests blessed Bishop Hying and also blessed Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy P. Broglio who was in attendance in support of Fr. Tim Mergen who is a member of the United States Air Force.

Father Mergen hopes to eventually serve as a military chaplain.

Following the blessings of the bishops, the four new priests blessed their parents.

Father Johnson blessed his parents, Eileen and David.

Father Mergen blessed his parents, Denise and Greg.

Father Racanelli blessed his parents, Claire and Gino.

Father Zelinski blessed his parents, Mary and Todd.

Following the Mass, the new priests gave individual blessings to those in attendance.

Mass participants

Bishop Hying was the main celebrant of the Mass.

Concelebrants included Msgr. James Bartylla, vicar general of the Diocese of Madison, along with other priests of the diocese and priest-guests of the men who were ordained.

Transitional Deacon Michael Wanta served as the Deacon of the Word. Transitional Deacon Luke Powers served as the Deacon of the Eucharist.

Diocesan seminarians Mark Foley and Simon Tipps served as readers.

Other diocesan seminarians and men discerning were Mass servers.

Ben Galvin was the cantor.

A video of the Ordination Mass can be found on the Diocese of Madison YouTube channel at under the “Videos” tab.

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