Archbishop ordains 10 permanent deacons

| Susan Klemond | December 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

From left, Deacons Daniel Brewer, John Cleveland, Gordon Bird and Donald Tienter celebrate during the ordination Mass Dec. 9 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

The deacon is a powerful icon of Christ the servant that our Church and our world need today, said Archbishop Bernard Hebda as he ordained 10 permanent deacons Dec. 9 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

He told the candidates, “Your message, which is again the Church’s message, will be credible to the extent that you are able to manifest the image of Christ who … came to serve and not be served.”

Approximately 1,700 gathered to celebrate the ordination, including Bishop Andrew Cozzens, priests, deacons, family and friends. It took place on the feast of St. Juan Diego, to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico and gave her image on his tunic, called a tilma, in 1531. Parts of the liturgy were proclaimed and sung in Spanish.

Noting that the Blessed Mother accompanied St. Juan Diego, Archbishop Hebda told the candidates, “As you engage in this important ministry in the Church, you won’t be wearing the tilma, but you’ll be wearing the stole and dalmatic [vestment] that should be a reminder to you that you go with the Church.”

The new deacons and their home parishes are: Gordon Bird, 60, All Saints, Lakeville; Dan Brewer, 53, St. Joseph, West St. Paul; John Cleveland, 63, St. Therese, Deephaven; Patrick Hirl, 52, St. Gabriel the Archangel, Hopkins; Alan Nicklaus, 53, Our Lady of Peace, Minneapolis; Paul Ravnikar, 59, St. Vincent de Paul, Brooklyn Park; Michael Redfearn, 40, St. Wenceslaus, New Prague; James Reinhardt, 56, Holy Family, St. Louis Park; Ronald Schmitz, 56, Holy Trinity, South St. Paul; and Donald Tienter, 58, St. Cecilia, St. Paul.

During the two and a half hour liturgy, the archbishop honored the candidates’ wives for their support. The candidates declared their intention to become deacons and prostrated themselves on the altar. Archbishop Hebda laid hands on their heads and said the prayer of ordination. The newly ordained deacons were then vested in a diaconal stole and dalmatic.

The archbishop placed the Book of Gospels in their hands and said: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

After the archbishop offered the new deacons the fraternal kiss of peace, more than 50 archdiocesan deacons did the same.

Children of all ages attended the ordination, reflecting the fact that some of the new deacons have young families.

Deacon Michael Redfearn said his three sons, ages 15 and younger, have been supportive during his formation and have also been blessed by it. He said after the ordination that he felt joyful and elated.

“It feels wonderful, but it’s only the beginning of whatever God has in store for us,” said Deacon Redfearn, who will serve at St. Bonaventure.

Deacon John Cleveland said he continues to feel humbled that he is called to serve the Lord and his Church. He said he felt the prayers of all those who guided him through the formation process. Deacon Cleveland, who will serve at Guardian Angels in Chaska, said, “I’m looking forward to helping out wherever I can.”

Denise Hirl, 52, wife of Deacon Patrick Hirl, read the second reading from 2 Corinthians in Spanish during the liturgy. The high school math and science teacher said the journey to the diaconate has been great for both her and her husband. Realizing the diaconate was a mark on his soul was disturbing at first, she said.

“I didn’t want him to change, but as ordination got closer, I just felt Mary our mother so close to us and all the wives, and we are very much at peace,” she said.

John and Maureen Nesheim and their daughter, Renee, came to see Maureen’s brother, Deacon Alan Nicklaus, be ordained. They’re parishioners of Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville.

“He’s been very faithful in seeking the Lord in this,” said Maureen, 51. “He puts the Lord first.”

Renee, 21, said she is excited for her uncle: “He’s really extroverted, so I think he has a lot of natural energy for being around people, and I think [being a deacon] will be really enjoyable for him.”

Steve Clark, 52, of All Saints in Lakeville, attended the ordination to support his fellow parishioner, Deacon Gordon Bird, who has inspired him in his own diaconal discernment.

“I think he’s a very humble man who just has a real quiet stillness, and he’s going to be great as a deacon,” Clark said. “I’m here to celebrate this moment and my own personal love for Jesus and to celebrate his love for Jesus and his willingness to serve in that role.”

Before ordaining the candidates, Archbishop Hebda told them that God has given them pastoral hearts, and they will serve God’s people on the frontlines.

“Use that gift well,” he said. “Trust that, indeed, as you serve you’ll be drawing ever closer to Christ. That’s his desire for each one of you. In the great plan of salvation, he calls you to serve as his servants.

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