Kathy Jasper was in the front of the line for the very first of “first blessings” her son Father Rich Jasper bestowed following his ordination by Bishop Malooly May 20 at the Cathedral of St. Peter.
It was a special moment between a mother and her priest-son that Kathy Jasper had anticipated for a long time.
“I’m ecstatic,” she said after the blessing, “because people don’t know he was only two pounds when he was born. That’s 42 years ago when they didn’t have all this technology,” she said.
“I’ve always said to him, ‘God has a reason for you to live,’” she added.
Mrs. Jasper recalled her son’s birth at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa., and her premature first-born infant being rushed to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
“He spent three months there. Back then you couldn’t even hold him,” she said. “He was allowed to come home at four and a half pounds. I always knew God had a reason for him to live.”
Rick Jasper, Father Jasper’s dad, said he felt “super” about his son’s the ordination.
“It’s been a long time coming. He’s really strived for this,” Jasper, an Episcopalian, said of his son’s ordination as a Catholic priest.
“He’s found his calling. He’s really shown he has the qualities the position calls for and he seems to enjoy it so much.”
Brian Jasper, Father Jasper’s younger brother, said he was “thrilled” for his brother.
“He’s put in a lot of hard work,” Brian added. He also noted Father Jasper has found a new home in the Diocese of Wilmington that’s not far from the Jasper’s home in Drexel Hill, Pa.
Father Jasper’s “heart has always been in Delaware, even before the priesthood,” Brian Jasper said. “He loves it.”
Prior to his ordination, Father Jasper credited IHM Sister Irene Loretta Cassidy with being a mentor to him during his years of vocation discernment.
The future priest taught middle school at the now-closed St. Charles Borromeo School in Drexel Hill for years when Sister Irene was principal there.
Father Jasper asked his former boss to give the second reading during his ordination Mass.
“He is a holy, holy person,” Sister Irene said after Mass.
The IHM sister also had a quick answer when she was asked what kind of teacher the Diocese of Wilmington’s newest priest was.
“I’m going to make a superlative statement,” Sister Irene said. “I’ve been on this planet for a while involved solely in education. I worked with him for eight years. … He was the best teacher, mainly because of his relation to children. He relates to that middle-grade level like no one I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been a supervisor of schools and I visited 100 schools every other year or so, and his ability with children is unbelievable. His great gift, as you see here, is he makes ever person feel as if he or she is the only person on earth.”
Sister Irene demurred from calling herself Father Jasper’s mentor.
“He mentored me,” she said. “He mentored me.”
Before the end of the ordination, Bishop Malooly announced that Father Jasper was being assigned to St. Ann’s Church in Wilmington, where Father John J. Mink, the pastor, is known for his talent in helping new priests navigate their first year in parish ministry.
The bishop also took special notice of May 20 also marking the 50th ordination anniversary of Msgr. Charles Brown, one of the many priests who concelebrated the Mass, and who now serves as chairman of the diocese’s Priest Retirement Committee.
In addition to the many priests of the diocese at the Mass – including Father Leonard Klein of the Cathedral – Sulpician Father Phillip J. Brown, president-rector of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, which Father Jasper attended, also participated.
The combined choirs of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington sang under the direction of Brian J. Wasilewski. Michael Davidson was the organist; Tom DiNetta and John Dolan played trumpet; Mary Ann Quarry played trombone and timpani.
Karen Yasik was the cantor. The first reading was given by Matthew White, a cousin of Father Jasper.
Father Norman P. Carroll, director of the Office for Priestly and Religious Vocations, also thanked Mary Ann Peirson, his office administrator, for assistance in arranging the day.