Middletown, NY – On Saturday, August 26, 2017 Carmelite Friar Nicholas Dustin Blackwell of the St. Elias Province of Carmelites was ordained a priest at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown, NY. His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York was the ordaining prelate. Bishop Dominick Lagonegro, the Episcopal Vicar of the Northern Vicariate of the Archdiocese of New York was also present.
Fr. Nicholas Blackwell was born on June 12, 1983 in Cass City, Michigan and grew up in Mayville, Michigan. During his college years at Northern Michigan University he got involved with the Catholic Campus Ministry group on campus. It was during this time that he began to think about the priesthood.
After college, Fr. Nicholas spent a year in Gambia working with the Peace Corps. Upon returning to Michigan after this experience his desire for the priesthood grew. He talked with his local bishop (Robert Carlson, former Bishop of Saginaw) who encouraged him to take the next step. After looking into a few other religious communities Fr. Nicholas settled on the Carmelites, mainly because of their focus on community life and devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the brown scapular. Fr. Nicholas professed first vows in the Carmelite Order on June 11, 2012 and was solemnly professed on July 16, 2016 – the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Present for the Ordination were Fr. Nicholas’ parents (Alan and Shawn Blackwell), Carmelite Friars, Sisters and Lay Carmelites, friends from college and many friends from the Middletown area as well as a number of parishioners from St. Simon Stock-St. Joseph parish in the Bronx where Fr. Nicholas has been assigned as Parochial Vicar.
In his homily, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan noted that this occasion was a great time for rejoicing. The Carmelite Province of St. Elias rejoices because they have one more priest. The Church rejoices because Fr. Nicholas responded to the call of God, and Fr. Nicholas’ parents, family and friends rejoice as they witness the good work God has done in Fr. Nicholas’ life.
After communion Fr. Michael Kissane, Prior Provincial of the Carmelites of the St. Elias Province thanked all who helped to organize the ceremony – the musicians, altar servers, readers and those who decorated and made the programs. Fr. Michael noted that his first assignment after ordination was to St. Simon Stock parish. He mentioned that he had spent many years in formation, studied theology and prepared to be a Carmelite and minister in the Church. However, he learned more about what it means to be a Carmelite and a minister in the Church from the people at St. Simon Stock. He encouraged Fr. Nicholas to learn from the people in the parish and to be an example of Christ to all of them.
A luncheon was held in Pilgrim Hall after the ordination ceremony. During the luncheon, the Knights of Columbus presented Fr. Nicholas with a gift of a priest stole. Fr. Nicholas is a 4th Degree Knight and worked with the local Knights of Columbus council based at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Middletown. The Grand Knight also read a proclamation that was written by Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus to mark the occasion of Nicholas’ priestly ordination.
After the luncheon Fr. Nicholas returned to the Shrine Chapel to impart his first priestly blessings. He celebrated his first Mass on Sunday, August 27th at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Middletown, NY. May God continue to bless Fr. Nicholas as he begins his life as a Carmelite priest.