The pathway to priesthood in the Diocese of Knoxville continues to be busy as Bishop Richard F. Stika ordained three seminarians June 14 to the transitional diaconate, an important step in their religious education before priesthood.
Newly ordained Deacons Jesús Guerrero-Rodríguez, Raymond Powell and Scott Russell participated in the Rite of Ordination for the diaconate at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus before family, friends, and nearly 40 priests and fellow deacons. Also in attendance were women religious with the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Missionary Congregation of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary.
The diaconate ordination took place two weeks after Bishop Stika ordained as priests Fathers Colin Blatchford, Tony Budnick, Julian Cardona, and Adam Kane.
Deacons Guerrero-Rodríguez, Powell and Russell join seminarian Michael Hendershott, who will be ordained into the transitional diaconate in Rome in October, as the diocese’s next priests to be ordained in 2015.
Bishop Stika was principal celebrant of the diaconate ordination Mass and Cardinal Justin Rigali attended in choir. Concelebrants were vicars general Father David Boettner and Monsignor Xavier Mankel, Father Michael Cummins, diocesan director of vocations, and Father David Carter, associate director of vocations. Joining them were Father Don Loskot of Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., Father Noel Mueller, OSB, of St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind., and Father Ron Hicks of Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill.
Deacon Guerrero-Rodríguez attends St. Meinrad, while Deacon Powell attends Sacred Heart and Deacon Russell attends Mundelein.
In his homily, Bishop Stika recalled a piece of wood that served as an ambo paper weight for readers, lectors and homilists. Inscribed on that piece of wood were the words “Sir, I wish to see Jesus” that each person who spoke would see.
“Scott, Raymond and Jesús, we wish to see Jesus through you. Totally embrace the Church as you totally embrace the people you are called to serve,” Bishop Stika said.
Bishop Stika reminded them of poignant words from Scripture, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” The bishop told them that as they join the diaconate and near priesthood, they are facing tremendous responsibility and opportunity as “instruments of Jesus.”
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus in how you see the people of God. Sir, we wish to see Jesus in how you live your life. Totally embrace the Church as the Church embraces you,” Bishop Stika said. “You, yourself, must be a person of prayer; for if you’re not, your life will be an empty life.”
During the Rite of Ordination, the seminarians were called by Bishop Stika in the Election of Candidates and then were questioned by the bishop in the Promise of the Elect, where they took their vows of the diaconate.
They then promised respect and obedience to the bishop, who laid his hands on them and gave the Prayer of Ordination.
The new deacons then took part in the investiture with stole and dalmatic, where three priests assist the deacons in putting on their diaconal stoles and dalmatics.
During the ordination Mass, Bishop Stika remarked that the home is often called the first seminary as he thanked the deacons’ families for their vital role in the young men’s faith formation. The bishop then imparted some words of wisdom for the deacons.
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus in your actions, in your prayer, in your sacramental preparations. Jesus, we trust in you. Remember Scott, remember Ray, and remember Jesús, God has called you to this moment,” Bishop Stika said.