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​Meet Christ and make his presence known, especially in dangerous times, archbishop tells new deacon

September 10, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Vocations, Breaking News

Meet Christ and make his presence known, especially in dangerous times, archbishop tells new deacons

August 15 was a day of amazing celebration, as the archdiocese rejoiced with the Blessed Mother on the Solemnity of her Assumption into heaven with the ordination of 12 men for the ministry of service by ordination as deacons for the Church.

“I cannot think of a better way to honor our Mother Mary than by extending the mission of the Apostles, with whom our Blessed Mother received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, in the world today through ordaining these men, our brothers,” said Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS.

The new deacons who received sacred orders at St. Rose of Lima Church are Richard Armendariz, Gabriel Becerra, Guadalupe Casanova, Jr., Jose Joel Castellanos, Dr. Ramon Figueroa, John Flores, Mauro Gonzalez, Samuel Heinz, Enrique Labrada III, Martin Lee, Hector Sandoval, and Francisco Suniga, Jr.

The Gospel reading at the Mass from Luke 1:39-56, placed listeners in the setting of Mary’s visitation with her cousin, Elizabeth. This visit of Mary with Elizabeth is not as casual as it may seem on the surface, explained the archbishop. In the world of their time Palestine was a land occupied by Roman troops. The roads and pathways from city to city were fraught with danger from brigands, robbers, and revolutionaries, as well as the occupying soldiers. For young Mary to make this trip from the region of Nazareth to an area just outside of Jerusalem was no easy thing to accomplish. Yet, she does accomplish it and she does it filled with joy and a spirit of praise.

“She cries out, ‘my soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!’” Archbishop Gustavo exclaimed. “Mary is willing to brave the dangers of her time and place, and to do so with an open and rejoicing heart!”

The San Antonio prelate cautioned the new deacons that they too are living in times of danger! This very ordination was changed to this day because of a Pandemic still raging out of control and threatening the health of people. There is international tension. People have lost their jobs.

“Our social fabric is under tremendous strain from competing ideologies,” he acknowledged. “Yet, in the midst of all this you have been called, as Mary was called, to bring Christ into the world and to bring him into the world with the same joy, praise, and gratitude that filled the heart of the Blessed Virgin.”

Holy Father Pope Francis recently referred to deacons as “the Servants of Charity.”

The Missionary of the Holy Spirit recalled that from the days of the original seven deacons, chosen in Jerusalem, and accounted by the Acts of the Apostles, to our own day here in San Antonio, deacons have been the custodians of the Church’s ministry of love and care for the most needy and vulnerable in our midst.

“Chosen to aid the widows, orphans, and those of Gentile descent, the Jerusalem deacons were the ministers of practical love and care in the community of the Church,” the archbishop continued. “Although the People of God may see deacons most often in their liturgical and sacramental roles, the truest work of the deacon is in the unseen ministry of presence to the poor and needy.”

“Please, my brothers, never forget this!” he urged. “Just as our Blessed Mother’s heart was filled with joy at the prospect of visiting her cousin Elizabeth, so let your heart be filled with joy and praise at the opportunity to be with poor, the sick, the elderly, the hungry, the widow and orphan, the “people at the edges, the margins,” as the pope likes to say!”

As the ordination liturgy was celebrated on the Blessed Mother’s Assumption, body and soul, into the presence of the Father at the moment of her death, Archbishop Gustavo called on the deacons to give of yourselves, body and soul, to this great ministry of love for God’s People.

“Celebrate the sacraments with the dignity and honor the sacraments are due,” he highlighted. “Assist the bishops and priests in the proclamation of the Gospel and the sacrifice of the Mass.”

However, the archbishop warned the men to just not be satisfied with wearing the stole and dalmatic.

“The stole you will wear across your shoulder is a symbol of your office, like the cross of Christ upon His shoulder. The dalmatic you will wear is a symbol of the steward of the household, whose job it is to be the chief servant,” he described. “These vestments only have dignity if the person wearing them is, truly, a ‘Servant of Charity,’ as our Holy Father has asked you to be. Your dignity, brothers, is in the service of Christ in faces of the poor and needy, and not in the clothes you wear!”

He concluded, “Listen well, and avail yourself to practice what you proclaim in the Gospel.”

Following the homily the ordination rite began with the election of candidates. Each deacon candidate was called by name, he responded and approached the archbishop and made a signed of reverence to him, and all gave their ascent.

During the promise of the elect, the elect rose and the archbishop questioned them. Each of the elect knelt before him and placed his hands between those of Archbishop Gustavo, to whom they promised obedience.

At the laying on of hands, the elect rose and each one of the elect knelt before the archbishop. In silence Archbishop Gustavo placed his hands upon the each of them.

With the elect kneeling before him, the archbishop, with hands outstretched, pronounced the prayer of ordination.

The newly ordained then received the stole and dalmatic.

Vested as deacons, the newly ordained went to the archbishop and knelt before him. He placed the book of the Gospels in the hands of each one and pronounced the exhortation.

Lastly, the archbishop game each of the newly ordained the fraternal kiss.

Wives of the newly ordained deacons are Pauline Armendariz, Diana Becerra, Bertha Castellanos, Marta Figueroa, Shirley Flores, Maria Gonzalez, Michele Ann Heinz, Deborah Labrada, Michelle Marie Lee, Sandra Sandoval, and Diana Suniga.