Archbishop Henry J. Mansell addresses the seven candidates for the transitional diaconate on Dec. 3 during their ordination ceremony in the chapel of the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. From left are Rev. Mr. Henry Alexander Avendaño Varon, Rev. Mr. Eliecer Castro Morales, Mr. Andrés Mendoza Floyd, Rev. Mr. Nicola Nghĩa Hũu Trân, Rev. Mr. Timothy Edward Ryan, Rev. Mr. Mathieu Isaac and Rev. Mr. Didier Julián Cardona Marin. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)
BLOOMFIELD – On what Archbishop Henry J. Mansell called "an auspicious day in the history of the Church," seven men were ordained as transitional deacons – the last, giant step toward becoming priests – at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary Dec. 3.
More than 500 clergy, seminarians, religious, friends and relatives overflowed the chapel’s pews, with many lining the aisles. The archbishop said, "We assure you that come ordination to the priesthood in May, there will be plenty of room in the cathedral."
The new transitional deacons, in the order of their ordinations, are: Rev. Mr. Henry Alexander Avendaño Varon, of Colombia; Rev. Mr. Didier Julián Cardona Marin, of Colombia; Rev. Mr. Jorge Eliecer Castro Morales, of Colombia; Rev. Mr. Mathieu Isaac, of Haiti; Rev. Mr. Andrés Mendoza Floyd, of Colombia; Rev. Mr. Timothy Edward Ryan, of East Hartford; and Rev. Mr. Nicola Nghia Huu Trân, of Vietnam.
Transitional deacons are on the path toward priesthood. Permanent deacons are not.
After the Gospel, which spoke of service, the candidates were called forward to present themselves before the archbishop, who asked Father Michael J. Dolan, director of the Vocation Office, "Do you know them to be worthy?"
Father Dolan’s formal response was, "After inquiry among the Christian people, and upon the recommendation of those responsible, I testify that they have been found worthy."
Archbishop Mansell’s formal response was, "Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these our brothers for the Order of the Diaconate."
Concelebrating priests responded, "Thanks be to God!" and the entire congregation applauded.
Before reading the prescribed homily, Archbishop Mansell made a few personal remarks. He said that when Blessed Mother Teresa was asked what needed to be changed to make us a better Church, she replied, "You and I." He reminded the candidates that the Gospel reading (Mt 20: 25b-28) quotes Jesus as saying he came "not to be served but to serve." He said, "We are called to be in service. God calls every Christian, but in a special way, he calls deacons and priests."
He said that during his Nov. 3-9 ad limina visit to Rome, he told Pope Benedict XVI that these seven men and possibly two more men were soon to be ordained to the priesthood. "The Holy Father was delighted to hear" this news, he said.
The other transitional deacons scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in May are Rev. Mr. Anton Augustus Miranda and Rev. Mr. Robert N. Landback, according to the Vocation Office. Rev. Mr. Mendoza is scheduled to be ordained a priest in 2013. The Vocation Office stated that the eight priestly ordinations set for 2012 will be the most since 13 were ordained in 1986.
"It’s very important to recognize where we are as Church, Church as service," the archbishop said. "A deacon, in so many ways, personifies that – personifies that in his work, in his prayer and his preaching."
In his prescribed homily, Archbishop Mansell said, "Strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they will help the bishop and his priests in the ministry of the Word ... showing themselves to be servants to all."
He questioned the candidates on their readiness, asking if they were resolved to be consecrated, to "discharge the office of deacon with humble charity," to "hold fast to the mystery of faith," to "embrace the celibate state," to "maintain and deepen the spirit of prayer" and to "conform your way of life always to the example of Christ." They responded, "I do." To the final question, they responded, "I do, with the help of God."
As they prostrated themselves before the altar, cantor Bonnie Pepper sang the "Litany of Supplication," after which the archbishop laid his hands on each candidate and said a Prayer of Ordination, which completed the essential act of ordination.
Rev. Mr. Avendaño was then vested by Father Robert M. Kwiatkowski, pastor of St. Teresa Parish in Woodbury, where he had been serving. He is assigned to St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, while continuing studies at Theological College in Washington, D.C.
Rev. Mr. Cardona was vested by Father Diego A. Jimenez, parochial vicar at St. Augustine Parish in Hartford, where Rev. Mr. Cardona will continue to serve while continuing studies at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell.
Rev. Mr. Castro was vested by Father Dolan. He will continue serving at St. Bernard Parish in Enfield while continuing studies at Holy Apostles.
Rev. Mr. Isaac was vested by Msgr. Gerard G. Schmitz, vicar for priests and rector of St. Thomas Seminary. He is assigned to St. Mary and St. Ann parishes in New Britain, while continuing studies at Holy Apostles.
Rev. Mr. Mendoza was vested by Father John L. Lavorgna, pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in East Haven, where he was serving. He is assigned to St. Thomas Seminary while continuing studies at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Rev. Mr. Ryan was vested by Father John P. Rohan, pastor of the cluster of parishes in East Hartford, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Mary and St. Rose. He will continue to serve there while continuing studies at Holy Apostles.
Rev. Mr. Trân was vested by Father Robert F. Tucker, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Litchfield, where he was serving. He is assigned to St. Lawrence O’Toole Parish in Hartford while continuing studies at Holy Apostles.