A reader dropped me an e-mail about this. Evidently, it happened on November 10. But I had to really hunt to find news about it on the diocesan website. There was nothing on the Diocese of Phoenix Facebook page, either. I finally found a link to the Catholic Sun, and was able to search its archives. Don’t hide your light under a bushel, Phoenix!!
Sixteen men, who were already faithful and active in the Church, are now permanently called to carry out many of its works.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted ordained the men to the permanent diaconate Nov. 10 at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. The men, and to some extent their wives and children, will serve at 16 parishes throughout the diocese.
Two of those parishes currently have only retired deacons, according to the diocesan directory. Their ministry will also take them to area hospitals, prisons and other Catholic apostolates. They join 231 other deacons, who under the guidance of the bishop, “assume responsibility for the more secular and temporal duties of the Church.”
Each deacon has liturgical, doctrinal and charitable roles. By God’s loving providence, the ordination took place in the first weeks of the worldwide Year of Faith, Bishop Olmsted said during his homily. Men are ordained to the permanent diaconate every two years in the Diocese of Phoenix.
“The Rite of the Ordination of Deacons places emphasis on the importance of faith,” the bishop said.
It’s faith that opens up the mind and heart to God’s initiative, to His presence, His mercy and His word, he continued. It cleanses the heart and opens the mind with a purifying grace.
“To teach our Catholic faith truly is a grave honor and a grave responsibility for the ordained,” the bishop reminded the deacon candidates, “but it is also the responsibility of everyone in the Church, especially families.”
He said it’s the duty of families to help neighbors believe.
“Teaching the faith requires courage, especially when our faith is contrary to popular agendas,” the bishop said.
Deacons and anyone spreading the faith should use teaching that is clear, engaging and complete, he said. The diocese’s newest deacons and their wives have a solid foundation for Church teaching. They spent at least the last five years in formation through the Office of the Diaconate including two years of classes through the Kino Institute.
The bishop cautioned the new deacons to only use their newfound authority “for serving others in love and loving others in Truth.” That’s one of the biggest changes Deacon Joe Ryan discovered pre- and post-formation.
“I’ve learned to love all the people in the Church, not the ones who are just like me, to genuinely love people who are a lot different from myself,” he said after a vespers service and eucharistic adoration preceding his ordination.
Being a deacon requires being there for everyone, not just a clique, he said.
Deacon Ryan has remained in the same parish most of his life and graduated from St. Mary-Basha School in Chandler. He, along with his wife, Siu-Ling, will continue to serve the St. Mary community.
He’s been practicing his Spanish and is eager to work with the parish’s Hispanic population too. Three of its eight weekend liturgies are in Spanish.
Deacon Ryan will continue his work through the Maricopa County Jail system, something he’s done for about 10 years. He is also involved in the men’s group and St. Vincent de Paul.
“I didn’t realize those were diaconal things,” he said.
Over time, a handful of deacons approached him saying he’d make a good deacon. That ultimately led him to formation. He said he brings a good sense of humor to his ordained ministry and “a God-given eternal optimism.”
Read more, and check out biographies of the newly ordained here.
Congratulations, brothers — and a belated welcome! Ad multos annos!