Bishop ordains four men to permanent diaconate
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
John Rudd of Estherville was one of four men to be ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Walker Nickless. The diocese’s other three new deacons are Dan Carney of Fort Dodge, Paul Kestel of Storm Lake and Jorge Fernandez of Sioux City.
Called by God
Bishop Walker Nickless celebrated the ordination Mass and delivered the homily. He referred to a passage from the Scripture reading by Isaiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”
In a similar way, he said the words could apply to the four men about to be ordained as they were chosen by God, consecrated in their mothers’ wombs, sent forth to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord by their words and actions.
“We celebrate this morning God’s initiative, God’s choice, God’s call,” Bishop Nickless said. “God always takes the first step in our lives, leading us to holiness. In unity and grace, each of these men will respond to God’s call by saying ‘I do.’”
The bishop added that they could not respond to the call without the help of the church – both in heaven and on earth. As the four men prostrate before the altar, he said they would call upon the intercession of the saints and prayers would be called upon from everyone in the church.
He took the opportunity to thank the deacon candidates’ wives for loving support, encouragement, prayers and sharing their husbands with the people of God. The bishop also thanked the parish communities and all who played a role in the formation of the men.
While the men may question their holiness and preparedness for this ministry, Bishop Nickless told them to remember the words of the Lord: “Have no fear for I am with you.”
“The Lord promises to be with you in your ministry of words and service,” the bishop said. “Do not be afraid.”
Bishop Nickless also stressed the importance of the men being “bold witnesses” in the world. He also spoke of the importance of being servants and their service at the altar.
Given that the English version of Jorge’s name would be George, the bishop quipped that if only Dan’s name could have been Ringo they would be celebrating John, Paul, George and Ringo. His comment was met with laughter.
As the homily drew to a close, the bishop said, “As deacons, that is as ministers of Jesus Christ who came among his disciples as one who serviced, do the will of God from the heart: serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord.”
Rite of ordination
After the homily, the men elected for ordination stood before the bishop as he questioned them as to their resolve to conform to the life of a deacon. Each man then knelt before the bishop as they promised obedience.
The men prostrated themselves before the altar during the litany of supplication. After the litany the bishop prayed over each of the men as part of the Laying on of Hands.
During the Prayer of Consecration, the bishop prayed, "We beseech you, Lord: look with favor on these servants of yours who will minister at your holy altar and whom we now humbly dedicate to the office of deacon. Send forth upon them, Lord, we pray, the Holy Spirit, that they may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace for the faithful carrying out of the work of the ministry."
The deacons were then vested with a stole and dalmatic before they received the Book of Gospels. Each kneeled before the bishop. He gave them the book as he said, "Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach."
The newly ordained then received a sign of peace from the bishop as well as from the other deacons who were present in the sanctuary and the Liturgy of the Eucharist followed the ordination rite.
Response to ceremony
The new deacons were awed by the service.
“When you are prostrate on the floor and the litany of the saints is being sung, you realize that the church spans time and space,” said Deacon Carney. “It’s awesome. Equally awesome was the laying on of hands by the bishop. As he stood in silence, you could almost feel something happening. It was very mysterious – very nice.”
He said he didn’t feel as though he was the same person as he was prior to the ordination – possibly due to the grace of Holy Orders.
For Deacon Fernandez the part that stood out for him most was the Prayer of Consecration.
“The ceremony was more than what I thought it would be – it was beautiful, great,” he said.
In the diaconate ministry, Deacon Fernandez said he plans to follow the lead of the pastor and the bishop and plans to do whatever they ask of him.
Deacon Kestel noted that it was very humbling to have everyone praying for him during the litany of saints and “feeling the Holy Spirit come down upon us – it was awesome.”
“I hope to serve the Lord anyway I can,” he said. “The formation process has been a wonderful experience.” The ordination Mass was a great way to culminate the years of study.
Between the ceremony and seeing all of the people who came to support them, it was a very emotional experience for Deacon Rudd. He was moved by the litany of saints.
“When you listen to all of those prayers and my father died a year ago – I thought of him then,” he said as tears welled up in his eyes.
His mother Herdis of Rock Valley had also thought about his father during the service and knew that he would be as proud of their son as she was.
“John was always a good boy,” said Herdis, who added that the ordination was wonderful.
Tom Kestel of Schaller said he was proud of his brother Paul. He added, “This is a big accomplishment. He put a lot of work into this. I am happy for him.”
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