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Father Cody Eveld (left) and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor celebrate after Father Eveld's ordination Mass May 25 at Christ the King Church in Little Rock. (Bob Ocken) Father Cody Eveld (center right) kneels before Bishop Anthony B. Taylor (center left) before being ordained May 25 at Christ the King Church in Little Rock. (Bob Ocken)

Model Good Shepherd, Bishop Taylor tells Father Eveld

Bishop details duties for priests tending to flock, importance of accompanying sheep

Published: June 6, 2024      
Father Cody Eveld celebrates with his family and friends after being ordained at Christ the King Church in Little Rock May 25. (Bob Ocken)

After a week of stormy weather, it was all blue skies and sunshine May 25 at Christ the King Church in Little Rock, as Deacon Cody Eveld awaited his ordination to the priesthood. 

The Eveld family sat closest to the altar among the crowd of 250 attendees, consisting of clergy and members of Catholic organizations in full regalia, watching as Eveld nervously — but excitedly — counted down the minutes before lying prostrate in front of the altar. 

The Mass was moved from the Cathedral of St. Andrew days before the ordination after the air conditioning failed.

Eveld, 28, grew up attending Sacred Heart Church in Charleston with his parents, Doug and Kelly Eveld, and four siblings. 

“Some of (the shepherds) even lay down their lives literally for their sheep, like Father (Blessed Stanley) Rother did, who insisted that the shepherd cannot run when the wolf attacks the flock. And Cody, I need to warn you that there are wolves in Arkansas, including the two-legged kind.”

“It is surreal for sure,” Kelly Eveld told Arkansas Catholic May 23, two days before her son’s ordination. “It’s crazy. Emotionally, I’m not really sure how I feel. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s crazy.”

She recalled how her son had called her late one night in 2017 to talk. As a mother, she immediately began to worry that something bad had happened, but was both relieved — and surprised — when he told her his intentions to pursue the priesthood. 

“We can finally see true happiness in him. It’s amazing,” Kelly said. “His goal was to become an attorney. For the first three years at Lyon College, that’s what he was pursuing career-wise. I never felt like he was very happy. He was missing something, obviously. It didn’t happen all of a sudden — it was a gradual change in him over the years. But it’s amazing to see how that’s happened. 

“It has flown by — seven years. I remember Msgr. (Scott) Friend (former director of vocations) telling us that at the very beginning, that it’ll go by fast. I thought, ‘No, it will not.’ Because it seemed like the first three years of college were a lifetime. But he was right.”

Among the special guests at the Mass were Bishop Erik Pohlmeier of St. Augustine, Fla, formerly of Paris, Ark., who was the best man in Doug and Kelly’s wedding April 23, 1994, at St. Joseph Church in Paris; and Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who returned to Arkansas to retire.

Father Eveld said it was exciting to see so many familiar and influential faces on the altar at his ordination Mass.

“Bishop Pohlmeier, we’re from the same hometown, so it was really cool for me to have him here,” Father Cody said, explaining Bishop Pohlmeier’s close relationship with the Eveld family. “ … It’s crazy that he came from so far. It was great to have his support. And Archbishop Sartain, he’s awesome too. … He’s so personable and such a good father figure. Also, Abbott Elijah (Owens, OSB, abbot of Subiaco Abbey), he was my morality teacher when I was in high school at Subiaco. He let us use Subiaco last year for my (diaconate) ordination. I’m so thankful so many people got to come — so many priests too, my brother priests who got to come, that was beautiful — all the support from all of these people who have been fathers to me.”

The theme of father figures and shepherds continued in Bishop Anthony B. Taylor’s homily. Bishop Taylor spoke about the importance of shepherds caring for the flock. (See homily page 15)

“One of the most cherished images in the Bible is that of the shepherd and his sheep. And so I’m pleased that in one of the readings for your ordination, Cody, we have a portion of the Good Shepherd discourse in the Gospel of John,” Bishop Taylor said. “Throughout the Bible, we find that God is the true shepherd … he leads, accompanies and protects the flock. In time, he chooses others to help with the shepherding.”

Bishop Taylor told Eveld about how Jesus chooses others to help with the shepherding of the flock each day, warning him of the dangers of shepherding. 

“Some of (the shepherds) even lay down their lives literally for their sheep, like Father (Blessed Stanley) Rother did, who insisted that the shepherd cannot run when the wolf attacks the flock,” Bishop Taylor said. “And Cody, I need to warn you that there are wolves in Arkansas, including the two-legged kind.”

Bishop Taylor explained the importance of a flock in his homily.

“The destiny of every one of those sheep is to get sheered, and part of the role of the shepherd is to accompany the sheep in their time of sheering, which the sheep find very disconcerting, especially when it involves loss,” Bishop Taylor said. “But this sheering serves the true shepherd’s purposes — God’s purposes. He sheers us clergy, too. For we shepherds with a small ‘s’ are the Lord’s sheep as much as anyone else.”

Bishop Taylor ended his homily by giving Eveld advice just minutes before laying hands on him to ordain him. 

“If we trust in Jesus, he is our good shepherd and will lead us to the green pastures we long for, and the table will be prepared for us in the land of the living,” Bishop Taylor said. “He will accompany us through the valley of the shadow of death … and he will protect us with his rod and his staff. … Cody, you’ve responded to God’s call to share with Jesus in his ongoing work of shepherding his flock today. 

“Lead others while being led by the Lord yourself. Accompany others in their time of sheering and loss, even as the Lord accompanies you in your own times of sheering and loss. And protecting others, to the extent of laying down your life for the flock, just as Jesus laid down his life for you.”

After the homily, Eveld was presented for ordination by vocations director Father Jeff Hebert. Following the litany of the saints and laying on of hands, Father Cody Eveld was ordained to the priesthood. As the Mass drew to a close, Father Eveld gave his first blessing to his family. 

“There was one part that I was praying with before the ordination,” Father Cody said, referring to the presentation of offerings in the ordination worship aid. “Whenever the chalice and paten are handed over, and (Bishop Taylor) is holding the chalice and the paten, and I’m holding it too, so we’re holding the chalice and the paten together, that was pretty powerful. At the end of that, he says, ‘...conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.’ That was what I was praying with before the ordination, so that part, too, was pretty powerful. … It emphasizes the sacramental character of the priesthood, by conforming your life to the cross.” 

Father Eveld will begin his first assignment June 17 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Jonesboro, where he will be the associate pastor alongside pastor Msgr. Friend. 

Bishop Taylor wants you to know more about your faith and the Church: Read Arkansas Catholic's free digital edition.

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