By SUSAN DE MATTEO
TYLER – Bishop Álvaro Corrada, SJ, will ordain 35 men to the permanent diaconate at four Masses this month.
The group ordinations will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Dec. 8 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, Dec. 15 at St. Mary Church in Longview, Dec. 22 at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches and Dec. 29 at Sacred Heart Church in Texarkana.
The men to be ordained represent 23 churches in the Diocese of Tyler and, after ordination, will bring the number of permanent deacons working in the diocese to 88.
Felix Ramos, slated for ordination Dec. 22, will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. His archdiocese did not have a deacon formation program active at the time he wished to begin formation, so he was given permission to join the Diocese of Tyler’s program, according to Deacon Rubén Natera, vice chancellor for the Tyler Diocese.
Scheduled to be ordained Dec. 8 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception are:
Tyler – Shaun Black, Rufino Cortes, Steve Curry and Jack Rounds, cathedral; Remigio Alfaro and José Angel Tiscareno, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church;
Canton – Jonathan Ben Fadely and Alan Stehsel, St. Therese Church;
Crockett – Ramiro Romo, St. Francis of the Tejas Church.
Flint – Clarence Black, St. Mary Magdalene Church;
Gun Barrel City – Juan A. Cázares, St. Jude Church;
Lindale – Dennis King, Holy Family Church;
Mineola – Fidencio Ramos, St. Peter the Apostle Church;
Scheduled for ordination Dec. 15 in Longview are:
Gilmer – Ricky Yelverton, St. Francis of Assisi Church;
Hallsville – Robert William Rhodes and Gregorio Sanchez, Our Lady of Grace Church;
Kilgore – Lino Huerta and Isidro Sanchez, Christ the King Church;
Longview – Scott Daniel, Joel Gonzalez, Francisco Lopez and Nelson Petzold, St. Matthew Church; Vincent James Wilson, St. Mary Church;
Marshall – Magdaleno Aguirre and John Sargent, St. Joseph Church.
Through their ordination, deacons are configured expressly to Christ the servant and are called to be ministers of service and charity.
“The diaconal ministry is rooted in the Bible,” said Father Eduardo Nevares, assistant director of the vocations office. “In the Acts of the Apostles, because the apostles, the first bishops, were so overwhelmed with trying to administer their growing churches, they chose seven men from the community to care for the widows who were being neglected (Acts 6:1-7). So from the very beginning, the deacons were ordained to serve those in need in their communities.”
Father Nevares said that particular charism manifests itself in the role and life of the deacon.
“Deacons are ordained clergy,” he said, “and, together with priests and bishops, they complete what the Patristic Fathers refer to as the ‘fullness of the church hierarchy,’ or the fullness of holy orders. They are not ‘substitute priests,’ but neither are they ‘glorified altar boys.’ They are ordained ministers, sharing in the Sacrament of Holy Orders with bishops and priests, but they have their own unique vocation, which neither priest nor bishop can or should fulfill.”
Liturgically, deacons can perform weddings and baptisms and preside at funeral services outside of Mass. They can preach and teach and lead prayer services. They are, however, restricted from consecrating the Eucharist, anointing the sick or hearing confessions.
At Mass, deacons are ministers of the cup and of the word, proclaiming the Gospel and distributing the Blood of Christ. Beyond the church, out in the world, deacons also are called to be ministers of the word, Father Nevares said, proclaiming the Gospel not in reading it, but in living it.
“The deacon is a witness,” Father Nevares said. “Through his marriage, through his family life, through his job, through his care and concern for the people around him, through what he does much more than what he says, the deacon is a witness to Christ the servant, Christ who brings comfort and compassion, Christ who cares for the poor and the suffering.
“Therefore,” Father Nevares said, “the deacon has the responsibility and the obligation to know his community, to know what problems and needs beset that community, and to know what resources are available in the community for people in need. Because the deacon comes out of a particular community, he knows that community with all its history, all its good and bad, as a priest probably never will. And he naturally knows who in his community is most in need of the service of charity. The deacon must be the face of the church’s charity, which is Christ’s charity. It is the deacon who takes Christ’s charity into the world.”
Deacons serve many roles. In the Diocese of Tyler, deacons have long been active in prison and hospital ministry, and in such ministries as St. Vincent de Paul. At the chancery, Deacon Rubén Natera is vice chancellor, Deacon Rick Lawrence is director of discipleship, and Deacon Jerry Besze is co-director of family life with his wife Mary.
In the end, though, job titles and descriptions have nothing to do with the diaconate.
“The only real job description the deacon has is in the Bible,” Father Nevares said, “in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Whatever you did for the least among you, you have done for me.’ Take care of and love the people of God; that’s what a deacon does.”
If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.