By Nissa LaPoint/ The Alliance
Six seminarians lay prostrate before the altar of God inside the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception last week, promising a life of service to the Church and praying for the grace to follow their vocation.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of the Archdiocese of Denver told the ordinands during a homily Feb. 6 to keep their hearts open to the word of God during their ministry as deacons.
“Trust in the words the Lord has given to us. Open your heart to those words and let them penetrate your hearts,” he said during the Mass of Holy Orders at the Cathedral Basilica in downtown Denver.
Five of the men ordained—Deacons Daniel Ciucci, Shaun Galvin, Nicholas Larkin, John Mrozek and Peter Wojda—are studying for the priesthood at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. Deacon Joseph Grady is studying at the seminary through the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Ordination to the transitional diaconate is a step in the formation to ordination to the priesthood.
A crowded Cathedral Basilica filled with friends, family and supporters watched as the men promised obedience to the archbishop and a life of celibacy. Archbishop Aquila laid his hands on each seminarian to confer the sacrament of Holy Orders. Each one received the vestments of a deacon before their brother deacons congratulated them with the kiss of peace.
The archbishop encouraged them to grow in intimacy with Christ.
“My prayer for you today as your archbishop is that your intimacy with Jesus will grow day by day, and you will heed his command to remain in his love,” he said. “It gives my heart great joy to ordain you. I encourage you, my dearest sons, to make yourself a total self-gift to Christ and the Church as I ordain you.”
Deacons may officiate at baptisms, weddings, funerals, and may preach the Gospel and distribute Communion. They cannot consecrate the Eucharist, hear confessions or anoint the sick. The diaconate is one of three ranks of holy orders—deacons, priests and bishops—that dates back to the time of the apostles. Over time, the diaconate became a transitional step for men studying to be priests.
Below are the profiles of the six men who were ordained to the transitional diaconate.
Deacon Daniel Ciucci
Parish assignment: Queen of Peace Parish, Aurora
Most inspirational saint: St. Francis of Assisi
Deacon Ciucci said he could summarize his ordination to the diaconate with one word: gratitude. “The experience this past weekend was imbued with gratitude for the Lord’s work in my life. He has called me, though I am not worthy, and He has told me not to be afraid.”
Deacon Ciucci, who grew up attending Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Boulder, first heard the call of the priesthood in the eighth grade. Another mother in the parish told him he’d be a great priest someday. “Initially, I was taken aback because it’s not something I had ever considered for myself nor is it something I ever wanted. But after the witness of a deacon from this same seminary, I was given a lot more courage to engage the question of the Lord’s plan for my life as opposed to merely my own plan.”
In his new ministry, Deacon Ciucci said he is looking forward to helping prepare couples for the sacrament of matrimony, which he calls a “privileged place of encounter with the Lord.”
Deacon Shaun Galvin
Parish assignment: Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Denver
Most inspirational saint: Padre Pio
Deacon Galvin’s experience of his ordination was an important moment in his Christian journey. “It was an exciting moment for me to say yes to the diaconate and to begin this next step in my Christian life,” he said.
He grew up in Austin, Texas, and Woodbury, Minn., before entering the seminary. When he was about 24 years old, he received clarity on his vocation.
“I received a huge grace about four years after I started considering the priesthood when God made it clear to me that he desired me to pursue the priesthood,” he said.
The diaconate is an opportunity for him to guide parishioners in their understanding of Scripture.
“I am most looking forward to preaching—to learn how to help people go deeper into the Scriptures and see how it can affect their lives in amazing ways.”
Deacon Joseph Grady
Parish assignment: Santa Maria in Domnica, Rome
Most inspirational saint: St. John Paul II
Deacon Grady said he is grateful to everyone who attended the ordination at the Cathedral Basilica. “It was a sign of a vibrant Church in the Archdiocese of Denver. The music and the liturgy were very well done, and I was very happy.”
He grew up in Broomfield where he attended Nativity of Our Lord Parish with his family. Deacon Grady studied for a year at the University of Colorado at Boulder and later entered the seminary. He earned a philosophy degree from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, and he continues his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Deacon Grady will return to Colorado and serve in the archdiocese after his priestly ordination. In his current ministry, he said he is most looking forward to serving at Mass and in the community.
Deacon Nicholas Larkin
Parish assignments: Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Denver
Most inspirational saint: St. John Paul II
Deacon Larkin said his ordination to the diaconate was the happiest moment of his life.
“For one, it gave me chills knowing, as Archbishop Aquila laid hands on me to ordain me, that it’s a rite that goes all the way back to the apostles and ultimately to Our Lord. But also having laid prostrate before the altar, as an act of surrendering everything to Our Lord Jesus Christ, was the happiest I have ever been.”
Deacon Larkin first heard the call to the priesthood at age 5 when growing up in Delta, Colo., and attending St. Michael’s Parish. “From that age, there was never a moment of real doubt.”
He said he is excited about his new ministry and his total consecration to Christ and promise of celibacy. As a deacon, he is looking forward to proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and praying the Divine Office.
Deacon John Mrozek II
Assigned parish: Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Most inspirational saint: St. Gemma Galgani
Deacon Mrozek was among the six seminarians ordained to the transitional diaconate at the Cathedral Basilica. He said, “My experience of ordination on Saturday was overwhelming.” He is also on the path to priestly ordination and is studying at St. John Vianney Seminary.
He grew up in Centennial and attended St. Thomas More Parish. Deacon Mrozek said he first discerned his call to the priesthood while in high school.
As Deacon Mrozek begins his new ministry, he said, “I am most looking forward to doing God’s will.”
Deacon Peter Wojda
Assigned parish: Holy Trinity Parish, Westminster
Most inspirational saint: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
Deacon Wojda said his ordination into the diaconate was “a beautiful and joyful day.” Originally from Vista, Calif., he later grew up in Centennial and attended St. Thomas More Parish. He said he didn’t hear a call to the priesthood until college when he started to attend a young adult Catholic group. “I found people who knew, loved, and lived the faith. I realized I wanted that and then began to consider what God wanted of me.”
As he begins his new ministry, Deacon Wojda said he looks forward “to preaching and serving God’s people” at Holy Trinity Parish.