MOBILE, Ala. — What’s the key to becoming parents of two priests?
“All we did was to get out of the way of the Holy Spirit,” Dr. Deneen Plessala smiled and said.
Drs. Kirby and Deneen Plessala had two reasons to celebrate May 30. Two of their sons, Father Peyton and Father Connor Plessala, were among three men ordained as priests for the Archdiocese of Mobile at the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
It’s likely the first time in the archdiocese’s history that two brothers were ordained priests the same day. There’s no record of any brothers being ordained at the same time in the Archdiocese of Mobile.
The two will begin their first roles as parochial vicars beginning June 27. Father Connor Plessala will be at St. Bede the Venerable Parish in Montgomery, Alabama, while Father Peyton Plessala will serve at Little Flower Parish in the family’s hometown of Mobile.
The ordination celebration was six years in the making as big brother Father Peyton Plessala, 27, joined Father Connor Plessala, 25, at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana.
While Father Connor Plessala entered the seminary directly after graduating from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile in 2012, Father Peyton Plessala spent three years studying at Louisiana State University before following his younger brother to the seminary in 2014.
That move put them on the same track toward ordination.
“I remember from the beginning when I started applying (for seminary) and did the arithmetic and realized I’d be in Connor’s class, kind of the implication from that point on — wow, we’d be in the same ordination class,” Father Peyton Plessala told The Catholic Week, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Mobile.
Father Connor Plessala added: “It’s definitely unique. It’s been a big blessing I know for us. … We’ve been blessed to see the Holy Spirit work through us. It’s been special to be able to do this together although we’re very different, very separate.”
The new priests’ parents were not surprised by the path their sons took.
Deneen Plessala said Father Connor Plessala strongly considered going to the seminary during his junior year of high school while he was on a trip to the March for Life in Washington.
“They were introducing all the priests to stand up (during the March for Life Youth Rally), then all the seminarians to stand up and then anybody thinking about going to seminary. And he stood up. He said, ‘I don’t know why, but I did,'” Deneen Plessala said. “And that was it. He has never wavered.”
Father Peyton Plessala initially had some thoughts about entering the seminary directly out of high school, but instead went to LSU with plans of becoming an OB-GYN like his father.
He was about a year away from receiving his undergraduate degree, when he felt pulled toward the seminary while praying one day.
“It was a very sudden turn,” Father Peyton Plessala said. “I was sitting in adoration at that time, which says at least a little. But I was moving pretty speedily in my own direction, if you will, and the Lord needed to be a little more abrupt to get my attention.”
Father Peyton Plessala soon called his parents, even interrupting his father’s round of golf.
“I answered the phone and he said, ‘Dad, I have news for you. I’m going to go to seminary.’ I was a little distracted (on the golf course) after that,” Kirby Plessala said.
“But he was really not at peace (before seminary), and couldn’t understand why. He’s had peace in his heart ever since.”
So have Kirby and Deneen Plessala.
“(The ordination) was very peaceful, quite honestly. We’ve both been anticipating this with joy and so it’s just joyous fulfillment for us,” Kirby Plessala told The Catholic Week.
Of course it wasn’t exactly like what the Plessalas had initially pictured due to COVID-19. Public Masses in the Archdiocese of Mobile have resumed, but attendance at the ordination Mass was limited due to social-distancing guidelines.
Portions of the liturgy also were modified, as the newly ordained are traditionally vested by other priests, but not on May 30.
“Fortunately, priesthood is a lifetime, so we’ll be able to celebrate the priesthood for many years to come,” Father Connor Plessala said.