May 29, 2005
(Star Tribune) - Michael Izen was about the age of his 7-year-old nephew, Jack, when he first felt the tug to the Catholic priesthood. But the idea frightened the shy boy, so he put it away.
On Saturday, Izen, 38, was one of 15 men ordained at the Cathedral of St. Paul in a 2½-hour service before a crowd of more than 3,000 family members, friends, priests, members of religious orders and bishops who had come from as far away as Nigeria and Ecuador.
Izen’s class of 15 is the largest in years for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and nationally is second in size only to Chicago, which ordained 16 last weekend. While it represented a departure from classes that usually average six or seven, the composition of the class reflects a national trend toward older, better-educated seminarians, many of them born in other countries.
Izen’s classmates included Hoang Nguyen from Vietnam and Thomas Joseph from India.
“The class size is a fruit of prayer of people in the archdiocese praying for vocations,” said the Rev. Thomas Wilson, director of vocations for the archdiocese. Izen and many of his classmates say they were inspired by Pope John Paul II’s spiritual example. . .