On Saturday, February 14, the Archdiocese of Denver will celebrate the diaconate ordination of four of its own seminarians at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
According to the Code of Canon Law, “Those who are destined for the priesthood are to be [first] admitted to the order of diaconate.” (Par. 1031, §1) This Saturday, Archbishop Samuel Aquila will lay hands on Matthew Magee, Mason Fraley, Salvador Sanchez, and Br. James Claver, SCJ, four seminarians at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.
“The rite calls for deacons to be faithful in the ministry or service of the Word, the altar, and charity,” reflected Magee, who grew up in Aurora, CO and is a parishioner at Our Lady of Loretto with his family. “[My dad] started [diaconate] formation when I was in my sophomore year of high school. He was ordained my first year of seminary. So I’ve always been familiar with it, what they do, and their roles.”
Fraley, a long time Denver resident and Bishop Machebeuf graduate, had a very different experience with the diaconate growing up. “We never had any at [my home parish], so it never crossed my mind that there was a clergy other than priests,” remarked Fraley. Recently, however, he’s had plenty of time to think about diaconate ordination: “Once the reality of the first ordination started to sink in—I think last summer—I really wanted to understand the theology and spirituality behind it.”
When asked what he was most looking forward to as a deacon, Br. James Claver, who grew up in Austin, TX and is a member of the young religious order the Servants of Christ Jesus, was quick to claim preaching. “One of the aspects of the priesthood I’ve always looked forward to is preaching, and all of the sudden it dawned on me a couple of years ago,” remembers Br. James, “holy cow, I’m going to get to preach as a deacon! That’s a whole year earlier. This is great.”
Salvador Sanchez, a native of Guanajuato, Mexico, recalls coming to see a need in the United States. “I always thought about becoming a priest,” said Sanchez, “but when I came to the United States, I saw the necessity of my people, the Spanish speaking people: they didn’t have a lot of priests who speak Spanish.” Sanchez revealed that he is most excited about “celebrating the sacraments” as a deacon: baptisms and weddings.
One of the steps to the diaconate is the oath of fidelity and the profession of faith. The four diaconate candidates made their oath a few days before the ordination before Archbishop Aquila . “For me it means a public statement in front of the bishop and the church at large of submitting my mind, my intellect and my will, over to the Church,” reflected Magee, who has been a seminarian now for seven years. “It’s really a step forward to becoming a servant of the truth in a public way.”
Deacons take on a special role of servant-leadership within the seminary community. “I’m just excited to represent Christ in an authoritative way,” remarked Fraley, who entered seminary right out of high school. When asked to remember what he found most inspiring about deacons in years past at SJV, Fraley identified deacons who were able to retain the uniqueness of their personality post-ordination. They were “seeking holiness lived in a new office and a new state but in its own unique way.”
The men remarked how excited they are for ordination. “I expected to feel way more anxiety than I’m experiencing,” said Fraley. “There’s a stillness that I feel that is not of me.” And when asked how he felt about the ordination, Magee replied, “It’s surreal.”
All the men have shown great trust in the providence of God. Sanchez hopes that as he is ordained a deacon, and later a priest, “God will provide for us at all times, with everything.” The four men humbly ask for prayers from the faithful in their upcoming ordination.
Everyone is invited to joyfully celebrate this beautiful event for the Church in Colorado. Magee, Fraley, Sanchez, and Br. James will be ordained Saturday, February 14 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 401 Colfax, Denver, CO 80203. Click here for more info.