Support and accompaniment on the journey recognized at transitional diaconate ordination
Two men — Edward Joseph Gonzales and Paul Abraham Melgarejo — were ordained transitional deacons for the archdiocese on September 12 by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, at St. Dominic Church and, God willing, will be ordained as priests in the next few months.
In his homily, the archbishop directly addressed both candidates who were about to be ordained and was pleased that the selections of Sacred Scripture — Jeremiah, Corinthians, and Matthew — serve well to understand the meaning of these two men saying yes to God’s call to the priesthood and ordination to the diaconate.
Brothers, he began, in the discernment of your call you have heard the Lord asking you not to be served but to serve. “Why?” he asked, responding, “Because you are truly called by God and sent by God. It is God who commissions you to be his messengers. God knows you. And because he knows you very well, dedicates you and appoints you for the sake of his people. There are not valid excuses: I am too young, you are not. I do not how to speak. Well … you do! It is true that our vocation is not an easy one. You will be touched by loneliness, rejection and persecution.”
Archbishop Gustavo continued, “But above all, the Lord himself will comfort you: ‘I am with you to deliver you.’ May the Lord himself touch your mouth to preach truly the Word of God to the people as you encounter them every day in your ministry.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads: “Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of holy orders marks them with an imprint (character) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the ‘deacon’ or servant of all.” CCC 1570. The duo were ordained as a sign of Christ the Servant, in the heart of the Church and for the sake of the world.
Pope Francis said: “They are dedicated to the service of the poor, who carry within them the face of the suffering Christ.”
The archbishop told Ed and Paul that they will serve others in their listening to his Holy Word, in walking with his holy people and in the proclaiming of the Gospel to all nations. “By listening to the Word of God with special attention, your heart will never be the same!” he emphasized. “You will open with such generosity and love that it will inspire your preaching, and the Holy Spirit will touch others in the manner of their need.”
The Missionary of the Holy Spirit described to the men how the needs of their brothers and sisters will call these deacons to walk with them, to go where they may not have ever thought of going. “You will take generously and courageously the extra step, making all the difference and bringing them closer to the Lord and to one another, especially the poor and neglected.”
The San Antonio prelate stressed that their charismatic listening and walking will teach them how to proclaim in the way of Jesus the message of God’s love “even to the outskirts, adding, “You, brothers, are now called to go ‘to the outskirts,’ to the places where others may not, or will not go: the outskirts of people’s alienation, loneliness and pain.”
Coming to the end of his comments, Archbishop Gustavo looked straight at the two to be ordained, saying, “Ed and Paul, if you wish to follow Jesus in this manner, you must as the Scripture calls us say before the people your intentions. May you be known as slaves for the sake of Jesus, as Saint Paul said. You hold the treasure of Christ in earthen vessels, so that the surprising power may be of God and not from you.”
The archbishop prayed, “May Our Lady of Guadalupe bearing Jesus Christ in her womb, be a constant reminder to you that to serve Christ is to serve God’s people, especially the poor as she did, always bringing hope and compassion to others.”
Following the promise of the elect and the litany of supplication, the two rose and each one of the elect knelt before the archbishop. In silence Archbishop Gustavo placed his hands upon the head of each of them.
With the elect kneeling before him, the archbishop, with arms 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.
Both now return to their seminary studies as they continue on the journey to the presbyterate.
Deacon Gonzales, whose home parish is St. Monica in Converse, stated prior to his ordination, “My vocation really manifested itself while I was teaching for confirmation preparation at my home parish. I continue to grow spiritually and pastorally under the many priests who have taken time to invest themselves in my discernment. I ask for your prayers as I seek to serve God and the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio to the best of my ability.”
Deacon Melgarejo, whose home parish is St. Francis of Assisi, stated, “I was inspired by the witness of priests like Father Dennis Arrechiga, Father Jimmy Drennan, Father Eric Ritter, and Father Larry Christian who inspired my vocation. They helped me to see God’s call in many ways and to feel the Holy Spirit’s movement in me. Because of this, I decided to follow Jesus Christ’s call to serve Him with all my heart and soul. If granted the grace of priesthood, I ghope to help bring unity to my community, with compassion and humility.”