CHARLOTTE — “Axios! Axios!”
Chanting these ancient Greek words, hundreds of people gathered inside St. Thomas Aquinas Church June 16 acclaimed three men worthy of holy orders during a special ordination Mass for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saint Josaphat, whose territory includes North Carolina.
Kevin Bezner was ordained a priest, and Basilius Magnus and David Rinehart were ordained deacons by Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo, who leads the Parma, Ohio-based eparchy or diocese.
The Mass, or Divine Liturgy, was the first Eastern Catholic rite priest ordination to take place in western North Carolina, and only the second deacon ordination.
The congregation included members of St. Basil the Great Ukrainian Catholic Church in Charlotte, which has grown steadily since its founding in 2006 and now occupies a dedicated space at St. Thomas Aquinas Church to accommodate its rising number of families.
Bishop Bohdan acknowledged the community’s growth in remarks at the end of Mass.
“It is a joy for us here in the community of St. Basil the Great,” he said.
Reflecting on Christ’s Ascension, which he called “one of the most beautiful scenes” in the Bible, Bishop Bohdan said Christ calls each of us today to go out and proclaim the Gospel just as He commissioned the Apostles.
“The same mission is given to us – to preach the Good News of Christ, to bring people closer to Him,” he said.
The newly-ordained Father Kevin and Deacons Basilius and David are fruits “brought forth from among you, the living community,” Bishop Bohdan noted, not dropped magically from out of nowhere.
Follow their example and the example of the saints and martyrs, he urged, in giving one’s life totally to Christ.
“Give witness to Christ,” he urged.
The Pontifical Mass drew clergy from around the region, including Atlanta and from St. Nicholas Mission in Cary, as well as from the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh.
Priests and deacons from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte who have supported St. Basil the Great Church and its new mission in Canton were also present for the celebration.
Former Canton resident Mike Hoey, who has known Father Kevin for years, credited his efforts to develop the Eastern Catholic mission for people living in the Asheville area. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated about once a month in Canton, hosted at the Charlotte diocese’s Immaculate Conception Mission.
“I marvel at his dedication and how his spirituality has grown,” Hoey said before receiving a blessing from the new priest.
Father Kevin Bezner
Kevin Bezner was born in Bainbridge, Md., in 1953. From elementary to high school, he attended Catholic schools in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Roger Williams in 1975, master’s degrees from the University of Maryland in 1976 (American Studies) and 1989 (English), and a doctorate in English and Creative Writing from Ohio University in 1991. He has worked as a daily newspaper reporter, college professor, and communications manager, writer and editor in banking.
He earned a certificate in spiritual direction from the Center for Spirituality and Ministry at Sacred Heart University, an advanced catechist certificate from Catholic Distance University, and a certificate in lay ministry from the Diocese of Charlotte in 2012.
He completed the eparchy’s Diaconate Formation Program and was ordained a deacon in 2014. That same year, he also completed a master’s in theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. In preparation for ordination to the priesthood, in May he completed the Ongoing Formation program at Byzantine Catholic Seminary.
Deacon Basilius Magnus
Many have asked whether “Basilius Magnus” is his real name or a “pseudonym,” and if it is inspired by “St. Basil the Great.” The answer to both questions is yes, he says. “My parents gave me that name when I was born, and I got to know the reason on my eighth birthday when my dad sent me a birthday gift of a book titled ‘Friends of Jesus’ with the icon of St. Basil the Great on its cover. One statement that I succinctly remember from that book is: ‘The Cathedral where St. Basil celebrated the liturgy was always packed with faithful waiting to hear his homily.’ I knew that my parents prayed and wished me to inherit St. Basil’s spirit and charisma.”
He studied the organ in elementary school and played from middle school through college. He also contributed in theological discourses in ecumenical forums (of mostly pastors, theologians and seminary professors) such as Partners in Ministry and Indonesian Pastors Network. After moving to the United States, he became immersed in the Eastern Catholic tradition, especially its emphasis on mysticism, contemplation and a meditative prayer life.
At St. Nicholas Mission in Cary, where he has been assigned, he served as an altar server and reader before completing the eparchy’s Diaconate Formation Program at Holy Apostles Institute.
He and his wife Nora have three children, Fidelia, Vitus and Andrea.
Deacon David Rinehart
David Rinehart is a native of Tennessee. His father’s job took the family to Washington, D.C., where they became members of St. Gabriel Parish. Their neighborhood included the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Catholic University of America. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army “and made a career of it serving in numerous assignments worldwide.”
A lifelong learner, he earned bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and management from Excelsior University of New York and associate’s degrees in criminal justice and general education from Central Texas College.
A member of St. Nicholas Mission, he served in many positions including altar server before graduating from the eparchy’s Diaconate Formation Program at Holy Apostles Institute, where he now serves as administrator.
A resident of Fayetteville, he survives his wife Fabiola and has two sons, David and Francis.
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor