Newly ordained deacons ready to serve

Ten men committed themselves to a life of service to God’s people as Archbishop George J. Lucas ordained them permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Omaha.

During a May 4 Mass at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, they promised obedience to the archbishop and his successors, and with a laying of his hands upon each man’s head, the archbishop conferred on him the sacrament of Holy Orders.

In his homily, the archbishop thanked the men for their response to the Lord’s call and wished them many years of fruitful ministry. And he spoke of their role in announcing and inviting people into the Kingdom of God.

“I think you’ll do this well if you keep in mind three important truths,” he said.

“First, it is the Kingdom of God. That means it’s oriented to God. … We stay focused on God by observing God’s law in obedience and humility … by offering up the worship that is due to God, in love.”

The archbishop referred to the Mass’s first reading from the Book of Numbers (3:5-9), which told of the men chosen to assist Aaron, the priest, in the sacred rites of the Old Covenant.

“You’ll have the opportunity now to assist the priests, and to assist me, in the rites of the New Covenant in Jesus, our risen Savior, in these liturgical rites,” he said.

“The second truth that will keep your ministry focused is to know that God is also oriented to the poor. In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles (6:1-7b), you’ll recall that the diaconate was established in the first place to keep this priority, and in a sense to keep us in this healthy tension – this balance of worship and service – oriented to God and at the same time oriented to the poor.”

He invited the new deacons to have a special care for the poor as they carry out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

“These works of mercy … are both practical and personal,” the archbishop said. “They often involve practical solutions, but also the investment of yourselves in relationship with those you are sent to serve.

“Finally, you have been chosen,” he said. “You have just taken this work upon yourselves. You have been chosen in mission by Jesus, as were those first disciples as described in the Gospel passage today” (Lk 10:1-9).

Archbishop Lucas emphasized that carrying out their ministries effectively requires being close to Jesus.

“If you’re close to Jesus, you’ll have your head on straight, you’ll be able to think clearly about the ways of God’s Kingdom, and your heart’s desires, at the same time, will be rightly formed.

“I’m very proud to have each of you new deacons as coworkers in the Lord here in this archdiocese to announce that the Kingdom of God is at hand,” the archbishop said. “So I thank you, and I’m grateful to the Lord for his calling you, and grateful that you have been so generous in your response.”

After the Mass, several new deacons spoke with the Catholic Voice about their vocations and hopes for their ministries.

 “I just really feel blessed and so humbled that I’ve been called like this,” said Deacon Charles Botdorf of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha. “It’s kind of hard to believe. It’s been a long, sometimes rocky road, but it’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey.”

“I’m looking forward to being able to accompany people in their suffering and just being able to minister however I can,” he said.

Deacon Tom Manhart of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Valley said, “I’m feeling blessed by the Holy Spirit. It was such a beautiful moment and one that I really want to be able to remember. It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience.” 

He said he looks forward to serving the people of God as a deacon “in whatever manner or shape that takes.”

Deacon Jay Wingler spoke of the evolving needs in his parish, St. Patrick in Elkhorn.

“It’s one of those rural parishes that’s quickly becoming a metropolitan parish, and so, needs are changing.

“And we have a lot of parishioners who are not able to come to church anymore, so there’s a huge need for that ministry for the homebound and those that are in assisted living facilities in our community,” he said. “So there’s never going to be a dull moment – there’s always going to be a need.”

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