|Breaking Open the Word|
|World & Nation|
October 1, 2008
Six men ordained deacons in step toward priesthood
Five of the six men come from foreign countries
By Roxanne King
On a balmy September morning, Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., ordained six men to the diaconate in a landmark step on their journey toward the priesthood.
Five of the six men hail from foreign countries: three are from Mexico, one is from Colombia and one is from South Korea.
“We also have a deacon from the most exotic of places—Connecticut,” the archbishop gently joked, drawing laughter from the standing-room only congregation inside the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Sept. 27.
Ordained were Carlos Wilson Bello-Ayala, originally from Bogota, Colombia; Mauricio Bermudez-Hernandez, originally from Puebla, Mexico; Crispin Miguel Angel Enriquez, originally from Guadalajara, Mexico; Jose de Jesus Garcia-Pedreguera, originally from Veracruz, Mexico; Damian SooHo Lee, originally from South Korea; and Joseph Toledo, originally from Bridgeport, Conn.
The men attend the two seminaries of the Denver Archdiocese—half of them attend St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and the other half Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary. Both seminaries are located in south Denver on the John Paul II Center campus. Redemptoris Mater has ties to the Neocatechumenal Way, a Vatican approved process of spiritual formation.
Five of the men are in formation to serve the Denver Archdiocese. The men attending Redemptoris Mater also receive missionary training and may be sent at the archbishop’s discretion anywhere in the world.
Deacon Lee will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Masan, Korea, but may eventually serve the Denver Archdiocese.
A colorfully caped and plumed Knights of Columbus honor guard led a striking procession of some 20 deacons, 35 priests, and two bishops to start the Mass.
Mass concelebrants included Auxiliary Bishop James Conley and the seminary rectors, Father Michael Glenn and Father Florian Martin-Calama. The multi-cultural liturgy had the Scripture readings proclaimed in Spanish and Korean. New director of music at the cathedral, John Miller, led the Cathedral Choir joined by members of other parish choirs and the congregation in singing beautiful hymns in Latin, Spanish and English.
In his homily, Archbishop Chaput explained that during the ordination rites he would lay hands on each of the men.
“(That) is the external sign of the sacrament of holy orders,” he said. “You are consecrated, set apart from the rest of the community for service to the Lord. This is a traditional gesture of the Church—to be consecrated means to be set aside for God’s own purposes.”
Referring to the day’s first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (1:4-9), wherein the Lord commands the prophet to bravely preach his message, the archbishop emphasized the duty of a deacon to proclaim the Scriptures.
“Be good, enthusiastic, joyful preachers of God’s word,” the archbishop urged. “He will give you strength and courage.”
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles (8:26-40) about how the early Church deacon Philip converted an Ethiopian eunuch through preaching echoed the story of Christ meeting the disciples on the road to Emmaus and setting their hearts on fire with his explanation of the Scriptures, Archbishop Chaput said.
“Your preaching my dear brothers,” he said, “should be after this example.”
The Ordination Rite began with the six men being called forward and affirmed as worthy of ordination. Upon the archbishop’s acceptance, the congregation burst into applause.
The men promised celibacy and obedience to the archbishop and his successors. Then, as they lay prostrate before the altar, the congregation sang the Litany of Supplication.
In silence, the archbishop laid hands on each of the men as they knelt before him. He then said the Prayer of Ordination over the group.
The newly ordained were vested with a deacon’s stole and dalmatic and were empowered to preach the Gospel.
“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are,” the archbishop said as each of the new deacons knelt in turn before him holding a gleaming silver and gold Book of Gospels.
“Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”
Following the archbishop, the veteran deacons then gave each new deacon a warm embrace, welcoming them into the order of deacons.
A clergy rank of the Church in Apostolic times, the diaconate eventually became a preliminary step toward ordination to the priesthood. While it still serves this purpose for men who will become priests, including the half-dozen ordained Saturday, in 1967 the permanent diaconate was reestablished as an independent rank of holy orders.
Deacons can officiate at baptisms, weddings, wakes and funerals. They can also preach and distribute holy Communion. They cannot consecrate the Eucharist, hear confessions or anoint the sick.
With others translating his comments into Spanish and Korean, the archbishop concluded the Mass by thanking the seminaries, the men’s families, their parish communities—and for the Redemptoris Mater seminarians, their Neocatechumenal Way communities—and all those responsible for the men’s formation.
“We’re very, very grateful to all of you for passing on the faith to your sons and giving them the good example that’s led to this moment,” the archbishop said, addressing the men’s families. “Once again, congratulations and praise God.”