The Permanent Engagement of Fr. Nicholas McManus
On December 8, 2019, Fr. Nicholas McManus made his final engagement into the Society of St. Pius X at St. Isidore’s Church in Denver, in the presence of his prior, Fr. Paul Robinson, his parents, and 400 faithful.
Born in Tucson, Arizona, Fr. McManus first experienced the Catholic Faith through sporadic masses said by an independent priest. It was a challenging time to be a faithful Catholic, yet God was preparing him by a trial of perseverance for the mission He had set for him from all eternity. By age 10, the family had moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and Fr. McManus had access to a weekly Mass served by the SSPX. Encouraged to serve Mass by his parents and inspired by the faithful witness of the priests he had contact with, specifically Fr. Fullerton and Fr. McMahon, the seed of the priesthood was planted and nourished in his soul. He discerned his vocation in high school, and in his Junior year, he decided to go to the Seminary. It was a visiting priest who asked him if he wanted to be a priest.
Priests are integral to the life of the Church. Without priests, it would be impossible to “restore all things in Christ" (Eph. 1:10). A priest must either serve in a diocese or a priestly community for him to be faithful to his vocation as a member of the visible hierarchy of the Church. “The desire of the Church that her clergy be firmly planted in one of her dioceses or religious families flows from the doctrine of the Mystical Body. The more completely we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, the more fully we participate in its life of grace.”
Within the Society, membership in a priestly community is done through a process of engagements. Seminarians make their first engagement into the Society, a true fraternity (family of priests), before they are tonsured. Every year, they renew their engagement, until they reach major orders, at which time they make their permanent, or final, engagement to the Society.
Before Fr. McManus made his first engagement into the Society, an older seminarian asked him why he chose the Society. It made him think. During this time of self-reflection, he read the writings of Archbishop Lefebvre on the purpose and sanctity of the priesthood. When Archbishop Lefebvre wrote the statutes of the SSPX, his primary concern and purpose of forming the Society was the holiness of the priest, his sanctification. Secondary to the holiness of the priest comes the mission to maintain the perennial teachings of the Church, Her tradition. As he studied, he became convinced that the Society would equip him with the necessary tools to attain his sanctification.
Becoming a priest is becoming another Christ (alter Christus), Christ as Priest at the Altar and Christ as Victim. The statutes of the SSPX center on the Mass, which is the spirituality of the Society, therefore it befits the priest to make his permanent engagement within the Mass. In the Oblatio, the official text of the engagement, the priest states that he makes a willful and permanent offering of himself in a sacrifice of praise. He begs pardon for his sins and commits himself to the mercy of God. He offers up the needs of his parents, friends, brothers, sisters and all who are committed to his care. He concludes with a personalized form of the Hanc Igitur and a consecration to Our Lady. The priest, therefore, renews the oblation he made of himself at his ordination by becoming a continuous Victim, in persona Christi.
By making his final engagement, Father McManus declared his permanent fidelity to his priestly family, the Society of St. Pius X. It is in the SSPX that Father will exercise his priestly apostolate, God willing, as a faithful son of Archbishop Lefebvre, until the end of his days.