By Liz Sullivan
Six men, from all different backgrounds are about to step forward in a way that will change their lives as they are ordained to serve the Church as Deacons.
On May 14, Charles Corbalis, Ray Gans, Gabriel Lee, Sunny Offorjebe, Greg Ortiz, and Khoa Vu will be ordained deacons for the Diocese of San Jose during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Patrick J. McGrath at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph.
Corbalis, Gans, Offorjebe, and Ortiz will become permanent deacons for the Diocese. Gabriel Lee and Khoa Vu, will become transitional deacons in one of the final steps they will take before being ordained priests for the Diocese next year.
“I am extremely grateful for the gift of my vocation,” said Vu. “I have always felt a deep calling to the priesthood and the Diaconate Ordination is a big step towards that. My classmates and I have been waiting for this moment for quite some time. It’s really hard to believe this time has finally come.”
For the seminarian known as “Panda” it is a case of many emotions. I am excited and nervous,” said Lee. “This is definitely a step forward for me. This is what I have studied for. I am here to serve people.”
On the other side, the four men who will be permanent deacons, have juggled their studies for the diaconate with their first vocations as husbands and family men. Each of the candidates is married and credits his wife with traveling with him on this journey.
“I think my family and my community are more excited than I am,” said Offorjebe, a member of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish. “This is a very emotional thing for me.”
Said Gans, a member of Holy Family Parish, “I always had a curiosity with the deaconate. As time went on it became more and more right. The outpouring of support I have gotten from my family and my community has been amazing. It has helped to reinforce that I made the right decision. Our wives have been a very important part of the whole formation process. I applaud the formation board for having them as a part of the process.”
For Ortiz, his time leading up to the diaconate ordination has meant serving the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph for the last 30 years.
“I am here not to be served, but to serve,” he said. “A door was opened for me six years ago when I began this process with ILM (Institute for Leadership in Ministry). We represent the face of Christ and are examples of God’s love.
Gans, Ortiz and Offorjebe are all graduates of ILM, but Corbalis went a different route and earned a graduate degree in Pastoral Ministries from Santa Clara University.
“I felt a calling and a desire to evangelize to the tech community of which I am a part,” said Corbalis, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga. “Tech people don’t often feel at home in ministry. We use the other side of the brain. Parish ministry is more of a social thing. I am very excited to take the next step.”
Offorjebe spent 10 years in the seminary in his native Nigeria and thought when he left he was done with the parish.
“I realized when you are called, you can run, but you cannot hide,” he said. “God has his plan and this feels right.
None of the six future deacons knows which of the diocese’s 54 parishes they will be assigned to until their ordination.
For photos and a story on the ordination checkout the May 24 issue of The Valley Catholic.