After five years of preparation, 17 men were ordained by Bishop Kevin Vann as deacons in the Catholic Church at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 19 in Christ Cathedral. This was the first diaconate class to be ordained inside the new Christ Cathedral. The last class of this size was in 1979 with a total of 18 men.
Upon their ordination at the invitation-only event, the men joined the 141 existing deacons serving in parishes throughout the Diocese of Orange. In addition to Bishop Vann, attending the ceremony were Auxiliary Bishops Timothy Brown and Thanh Thai Nguyen; the existing diocesan deacons and their wives; and many of the pastors in whose parishes the men will serve.
Their preparation involves academic classes in subjects like canon law and church history, spiritual preparation in prayer and meditation, and pastoral service in hospitals, jails, and the community.
Frank Chavez, the diocesan director of the Office of the Diaconate, says the ordination ceremony included the laying on of hands, which is deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and tradition; a series of solemn vows the men make, including promises to obey and respect the Bishop; the Litany of Saints; and a special Mass where they pray together.
Chavez says he believes that Catholic deacons “bring the grace of the altar to the streets and bring the needs of the streets to the altar.”
The Order of Deacon was instituted by the apostles. Seven men were initially chosen and “hands were laid on them” so that they could carry on in the name of the apostles the ministry to widows in need. The ministry assigned to deacons grew to include others in need, administration of temporal affairs of the Church, preaching, and performing certain sacramental ministries
After several hundred years, the Order of Deacon disappeared in the Western Church. It was restored as a permanent, public ministry in the Roman Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council and the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the U.S. was authorized in 1968.
Chavez, who was ordained in 1984, is married to his wife Mary; they have two children and live in Yorba Linda. As a deacon he has been able to baptize all five of his grandchildren.
“In my experience, the most profound thing is that we as deacons are privileged to enter people’s lives in very intimate ways at profound times in their lives,” he says, including baptizing their children, burying their grandparents and witnessing vows at their marriages.
Candidates for the diaconate must be active church members. If married, their marriages must be stable, and they must have good work histories. They must be between 35 and 60 years old before undergoing the formation process and demonstrate active lives of service, apostolic involvement, and leadership in the community. They must demonstrate the potential to develop ministerial skills, including relating well to people and speaking well.
The Class of 2019 Diocese of Orange Diaconate candidates include:
- Leopoldo Arana, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Santa Ana-Delhi
- William Beam, St. Bonaventure, Huntington Beach
- Anthony Caso, St. Boniface, Anaheim
- Kevin Durkin, San Antonio de Padua, Anaheim Hills
- Andres Guerrero, St. Cecilia, Tustin
- David Hernandez, Holy Family Cathedral, Orange
- Francisco Javier Martin, St. Joachim, Costa Mesa
- Jose Mercado, St. Mary’s, Fullerton
- Carlos Muñoz, St. Norbert, Orange
- Phong Nguyen, Blessed Sacrament, Westminster
- Anthony Palazzolo, St. John Neumann, Irvine
- Carlos Pineda, St. Nicholas, Laguna Woods
- Richard Purpura, St. Norbert, Orange
- Jorge Sanchez, Christ Our Savior, Santa Ana
- John Selig, St. Thomas More, Irvine
- John Silberstein, St. Kilian, Mission Viejo
- Victor Valenzuela, St. Kilian, Mission Viejo