By Liz Sullivan
Six men answered the call to the Diaconate on May 14 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph when the Diocese of San Jose celebrated their Ordination Mass.
Charles Corbalis, Ray Gans, Sunny Offorjebe and Greg Ortiz were ordained permanent deacons for the Diocese, while Gabriel Lee and Khoa Vu were ordained transitional deacons, as they are a year away from their ordination to the priesthood.
“This is a wonderful day for our local church,” said Bishop Patrick J. McGrath at the start of the Mass. “It is a wonderful day for all of us and for our deacons to be ordained.”
Seven hundred people filled the Cathedral for the Mass, which lasted a little over two hours.
Each of the candidates was called forward, and on behalf of the Church, was presented to the Bishop. In the name of the Church, the Bishop elects the candidates and the assembly affirms their election through a round of applause.
Then the candidates make solemn promises to be consecrated for ministry, to serve the priestly Order and the People of God with humble charity; to proclaim the Gospel faithfully and hand on the Church’s tradition; for the transitional deacons, to embrace the celibate state as a commitment to Christ; to pray with and for the People of God, and to conform themselves more closely to Christ. Finally, they pledge obedience to the Bishop of San Jose and his successors.
At one point in the Mass, the candidates laid prostrate in the sanctuary as a sign of submission, humility, and dependence upon the mercy of God, the intercession of the saints, and the prayer of the Church.
Finally, the new deacons are clothed with the vesture of deacons: diaconal stole, and the dalmatic. Once this happens the deacons are embraced through hugs and handshakes by the bishop and deacons assembled.
“The Diaconate is at the heart of all ordained ministry in the church and at the heart of all that we are as a Church,” said McGrath, during the Homily. “Every priest, bishop, and pope was ordained first as a deacon. And so the ministry of every priest, bishop, and pope is rooted in diaconal service. The diaconate, as restored in the life of the Church, offers vital witness of the fundamental nature of justice and charity in the life of the Church, in the life of every Christian.”
As the Bishop concluded his homily he had one final message for the soon to be ordained, “I ask you to consider once more the words of our Holy Father Francis: ‘Love always takes this path: to give one’s life. To live life as a gift, a gift to be given – not a treasure to be stored away.’ As you do so, you will grow stronger. As Saint Francis of Assisi taught, ‘It is in giving that we receive.’”