On Saturday, May 14, 2011, the congregation at Saint Jane Frances De Chantal in North Hollywood witnessed the ordination of Carmelite David Nelson Genders to the Order of Priesthood. Father Genders, O.Carm., continues the legacy of Carmelite students that chose the vocation to the priesthood. He graduated from Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, in 1998. While David was at Crespi, he began to discern, “more seriously the thought of pursuing my vocation.” He describes his journey to Carmel as “a growing realization.”
As a young man at Saint Mel Catholic School in Woodland Hills, Genders thought about the Priesthood, but had not seriously pursued it. As a high school student, he joined an Archdiocese program for young men called Vocations In Progress (VIP). “It was a good experience, but I realized through this process that I did not have a call to the diocesan form of priesthood,” said Genders. As he finished high school, Genders discounted the thought of entering the seminary, but remained active with the Parish community at Saint Bernardine of Sienna Parish in Woodland Hills.
While at The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), his calling began to foster as his relationship grew stronger with the Carmelites in the area. During this time, Genders believes his vocation, “was rekindled through a simple invitation to join the community for prayers.” The process was slow, but Genders began to realize that, “I felt like I was at home.” He liked everything these men embodied, “their prayer in how they lived together and ministered together.” This model was different from the diocesan one, as it focused more on the brotherhood of men sharing a common life together.
“I knew that I could do the ministry of a standard diocesan priest, but how was that going to be done?” For Father David, it would be through the “help of others willing to walk with me in this journey.” In his speech following his ordination on Saturday, he thanked many of those who helped. The first was the Most Reverend Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, Auxiliary Bishop of the San Fernando Valley, and celebrant of the ordination. Father David said, “Bishop Wilkerson asked me to lunch. After meeting with him for three hours, I was put at ease this week.” He also thanked all of those who helped and supported him; his family, friends, elementary school community, and his parish community.
But his journey into Carmel was made special by the Carmelites he knew from his days at Crespi. One of them was Father Frederick Tillotson, O. Carm., former President and Principal of Crespi and currently the President of the Washington Theological Union. Father Genders said, “Tillotson’s leadership which continues today with Father Paul Henson, O.Carm., and Father Tom Schrader, O.Carm., along with the faculty and staff, left a great impression on me.”
Currently, Genders works as the Mid-West Vocation Director for the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. “I have a great deal of energy and passion for this aspect of our lives as Carmelites. But, I hope it is working with communications in some capacity.” He would like to continue to use media in supporting the ministry and has a great passion for communications in general.
He hopes to help spread the tradition of the Carmelites through media. “I view my gifts to be able to aggregate the various technologies and ways that people are using to communicate.” The tradition would be accessible and relevant for future generations of web/media savvy Catholics. “We have always been a small order, but after 800 years, we have produced some of the greatest spiritual writers in the life of the church.”
He joins a special group of young men from Los Angeles, who for almost eighty years have chosen to follow the leadership of Elijah and the example of Mary in their journey up the mountain. Four notable graduates of Mount Carmel High School, Los Angeles, who became members of the Order of Carmelites are Father Augustine Carter, O.Carm, Father Pete Liuzzi, O.Carm., Father John Coleman, O.Carm., and Father John Knoernschild, O.Carm. Both, Carter and Knoernschild served as principals of Crespi Carmelite. Liuzzi is the pastor at Saint Jane Frances de Chantel and Father Coleman is the Prior of the Encino Priory. Father Glen Snow, O.Carm., and Father Paul Koenig, OCD, are Crespi Carmelite alumni.
Father David Gender’s Ordination to the Priesthood shines as a great example of a Crespi Man. At the time he chose his path, it was difficult and not a popular decision in the Los Angeles area. His eight year journey to Carmel began in 2003, one of the most difficult periods for the Archdiocesan of Los Angeles, and the American Catholic church as well. Yet he was able to persevere to attain something greater. On Sunday, May 15, 2011, Father Genders’ journey returned full circle as he celebrated Mass at Saint Bernardine Parish in Woodland Hills. Father Genders has the right understanding of his formation as he claims, “this is not the end, just the beginning.”
Father Tom Schrader, O.Carm., current President of Crespi was extremely proud to have an alumnus of the school join the Carmelites and share in his special day. He felt, “Father David Genders, O.Carm., resonated with the Carmelite Charism and its ancient history and saints, beginning with his time at Crespi Carmelite High School.” The Crespi Carmelite community is proud to share in the joy of the Carmelite Friars of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary as they celebrate the Ordination to Priesthood of David Nelson Genders. The Crespi Carmelite community applauds his accomplishments and asks that all continue to pray for other young men who have heeded the call to this special vocation.