ST. FRANCIS – The Rev. Kent Ouellette was ordained into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine Saturday at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.
The ordination by the Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Portland, is the only one in the Maine diocese this year and the first in St. Charles Church since it was established as a parish in 1894.
Ouellette, 47, entered the seminary to study for the priesthood after being an engineer for 20 years in New Hampshire and Maine. He is the youngest of 11 children of Julienne and the late Adelord Ouellette of St. Francis.
His mother, 92 and in a wheelchair, brought a Communion chalice to Bishop Malone, who then presented it to Ouellette.
Several hundred people attended the Saturday morning Mass, where the sacrament of Holy Orders was performed in the church built in 1980.
The observers came from many St. John Valley parishes and were joined by 19 priests, two deacons, and several seminarians from throughout the state and Baltimore, Md., where Ouellette studied for the priesthood.
“A whole series of life events brought me to this point in my life,” Ouellette said before his ordination. “I had many moments during my life, especially as an adult, when I thought of where I should be in life.
“Life was good, but when I looked inside myself, something was missing,” he said, surrounded by many who were within minutes of becoming his fellow priests. “This feeling kept growing in me, and I could no longer say ‘no’ to my feelings, and I just had to see further.”
Ouellette’s family, with expressions of pride, sat at the front of the church, surrounded by other members of their family and scores of friends in the small northwestern Maine community.
“What a great joy for this community and the entire diocese,” Bishop Malone said at the beginning of the ordination ceremony. “This is a gift from God, this new priest.
“It was I who chose you,” Bishop Malone read from the Holy Scriptures. “In your case, it was a choice made known over time.”
The white walls and dark wood beams of the church reverberated with song and prayer as 24 Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus led the procession of priests, seminarians, Ouellette and Bishop Malone into the church.
“What a great day for this parish, Kent’s family and all of us,” the Rev. Claude Gendreau, pastor of the church, said before the ceremony. “It’s the first time an ordination is held here.
“These people are very proud, and so are we all,” said the pastor, who is a friend and confidant of Ouellette. “This parish has waited five years for this celebration to happen.”
Bishop Malone called Ouellette a “man on a mission.” Malone said it was a “holy mission, a sacred mission” to be a teacher, a priest and a shepherd to the faithful of northern Maine, the entire state and beyond.
Ouellette, a graduate of St. Francis Elementary School, Community High School at Fort Kent, the University of Maine at Orono and St. Mary’s Seminary and University at Baltimore was ordained a deacon of the Roman Catholic Church one year ago at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at Portland.
Before entering the seminary in 2000, he worked for Fairchild National Semiconductor Inc. in South Portland and Sanders Associates of Nashua, N.H.
The Rev. Ouellette, who was officially anointed into the priesthood at 10:50 a.m. Saturday, will be a parochial vicar in the parishes of St. Joseph, St. Andre and St. Mary’s churches, all in Biddeford, Bishop Malone announced at the closing of the ceremony.