Joy and peace shine forth on ordination day: Nine men become permanent deacons for archdiocese
May 3, 2021
Nine men answered a call to serve the Church in a deeper way, giving themselves to a life of service, as they were ordained as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Omaha May 1 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.
The sunshine and warmth of the spring day reflected the joy and peace several of the men said they had going into the day.
“I’m so happy for this beautiful moment,” Deacon Librado Maiz-Cervantes, of Divine Mercy Parish in Schuyler, said ahead of the 10 a.m. ordination Mass.
Deacon John Pflug, of Christ the King Parish in Omaha, said he felt “overjoyed, completely full,” feeling the love and graces of God with peace and calm.
They and the other seven men, along with their wives, had completed four years of formation, knowing they “will lay down their lives in a radical way for Jesus, his Church, and his people,” said Deacon Timothy McNeil, director of permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Omaha. “They are all eager and equipped to be servants of charity.”
The wives gave the deacons prayer and support during their formation, which they will continue to need as they become conformed to Jesus, “who came not to be served, but to serve,” Archbishop George J. Lucas said in his homily, which he gave in English and partly in Spanish.
Supporters followed health precautions at the cathedral, filling about every other pew and wearing masks. The Mass was livestreamed for those who could not attend in person.
Archbishop Lucas called the men his “brothers in Christ,” who are sent to announce the Kingdom of God by preaching the Gospel, assisting at the altar during Mass, bringing holy Communion to the sick and dying, immersing new members into the Church at baptism, blessing marriages and ministering at the time of death.
The deacons are sent by Jesus for a special role in the Church’s ministry of charity, “to seek out and save the lost, to notice those who are burdened down, not letting them carry their burdens alone,” the archbishop said.
Jesus proclaimed peace and not condemnation to his disciples after his resurrection. “You are sent out by the Lord to make that same proclamation in his name and very person,” Archbishop Lucas told the men, “as you seek out the sick, the imprisoned, the alienated, sisters and brothers who may feel broken and ashamed. You are sent to proclaim the peace of Christ.”
In the Gospel reading, Jesus encouraged his disciples “to carry no money bag.”
The archbishop similarly advised the men: “Don’t bring a lot of baggage, but I do encourage you to bring with you into your ministry the fruit of your prayer, your daily prayer, to bring the healing words of Scripture, to bring compassion for the broken, to bring the peace of the Risen Christ.”
Deacon Gonzalo Palma-Prince speaks Spanish and English, but he had trouble finding the words for his joy. “It’s a different kind of joy, a different kind of happiness, filled with so much meaning. I don’t know how to describe it in any language,” said the deacon, who’s a member of St. Peter Parish but will serve at another east Omaha parish, St. Joseph.
The deacon, whose middle name is Jose, noted the influence of St. Joseph on his ordination. The day was the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, in the Year of St. Joseph, as he heads off to minister at St. Joseph Parish.
With eagerness and humility, he said, he wants to help gather the flock there and further ignite their faith.
“Nothing is impossible for God,” he said.
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NEWLY ORDAINED PERMANENT DEACONS
Nine men of the archdiocese were ordained to the permanent diaconate May 1 during a Mass at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. They will serve in their parishes and in other ministries in the Archdiocese of Omaha. They are:
- Ramon Contreras Lemus of Assumption-Guadalupe Parish, Omaha
- Stephen Doran of St. Margaret Mary Parish, Omaha
- Mark Hoyle of St. Patrick Parish, Fremont
- Librado Maiz-Cervantes of Divine Mercy Parish, Schuyler
- Gonzalo Jose Palma-Prince of St. Peter Parish, Omaha
- John Pflug of Christ the King Parish, Omaha
- Gilbert Snodgrass of St. Patrick Parish, Fremont
- Pablo Tovar of Divine Mercy Parish, Schuyler
- Bart Zavaletta of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Omaha