Seminarians Take Next Step to Priesthood

Tags: Currents, Seminarians, Transitional Diaconate, Vocations

By Katie Engesser

Thirteen seminarians are taking a big step in their lives. They’re being ordained transitional deacons and in about six months, if all goes well, they will become priests.

“This is something that I’ve been dreaming of all my lifetime,” said Deacon Johnpaul Obiaeri from the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Laying prostrate on the floor of St Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, they pray to the saints for guidance in their new roles. The thirteen men include eight from the New York Archdiocese and the Diocese of Rockville Centre, two from South Korea’s Diocese of Daejeon and three from the Diocese of Brooklyn. They all come from different backgrounds but each has been waiting for this Saturday.

“Watching for so many years friends that are now priests and watching them do it and now to do the same thing… That definitely hit me,” said Deacon Michael Falce about laying prostrate during ordination.

Deacon Sangbin Lee from the Diocese of Daejeon said “I never imagined coming to the United States or spending my life in other countries but it’s very great.”

Bishop John Barres, head of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said “It’s a very powerful day. It’s a culmination and of beginning.”

Bishop Barres presided over the liturgy. By laying on his hands, he invokes the Holy Spirit on the young men. This allows them to celebrate sacraments such as baptisms and marriages.

“Really, I’m just looking forward to being part of the community,” Deacon Edwin Ortiz from the Diocese of Brooklyn said.

The deacons get started right away. After mass each deacon is given a letter, telling them where they will be serving before priesthood. The men of the Brooklyn Diocese see their new assignments as great opportunities.

“I was very blessed to be with the parish of Mary Queen of Heaven, which is where I’ll be going as a deacon,” Deacon Michael explained, “I was there last summer. The people were great.”

Deacon Johnpaul said, “I am going to Sacred Heart and St Stephen’s in Carroll Gardens. I’ve not really been to the parish and it’s probably a good thing that I am going to experience a new environment. “

“I’m going to St Fidelis in College Point and Monsignor Herron is the pastor,” Deacon Edwin said, “which is pretty funny since he was the pastor of my home parish when I was a little kid.”

Bishop Barres says the deacons will do more than just serve. They will help build the future church in a time of testing for Catholics, coping with the clerical sex abuse crisis.

“These young men are stepping up at a really challenging time of church history,” The head of the Rockville Centre Diocese explained, “the fact that they’re following the power of the Holy Spirit is such a great moment for our church and such a sign of hope. “