By Denise Fedorow
WARSAW — Eleven men, who are in formation for the Hispanic diaconate, were installed to the Ministry of Lectors in a rite celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Diocesan Shrine in Warsaw on Jan. 9.
According to the Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons, “Before anyone may be promoted to the diaconate, whether permanent or transitory, he must have received the ministries of lector and acolyte, and have exercised them for an appropriate time,” so that he may “be better disposed for the future service of the Word and the altar.”
In fact, the norms say, the Church “considers it to be very opportune that both by study and by gradual exercise of the ministry of the Word and of the altar, candidates for sacred orders should through intimate contact understand and reflect upon the double aspect of the priestly office. Thus it comes about that the authenticity of the ministry shines out with the greatest effectiveness. In this way the candidates come to sacred orders fully aware of their vocation, ‘fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, constant in prayer and aware of the needs of the faithful’ (Rom 12:11-13).”
Bishop Rhoades told the candidates the Rite for Institution of Lectors and proclaiming the Word of the Lord was very important and that it wasn’t just an appointment to an assigned parish for a prescribed amount of time, but for every day and everywhere.
He said when they proclaim the Word of the Lord in Mass they call upon the Holy Spirit with a sincere heart and love for the Word of the Lord.
The rite for the Institution of Lectors takes place during the celebration of Mass. After the Gospel, Bishop Rhoades, wearing his miter, sat and Director of Formation Deacon Stan LeMieux called the candidates.
The 11 men — including Juan Campos, St. Patrick, Ligonier; Marco Castillo, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Warsaw; Fred Everett, Corpus Christi, South Bend; Alejandro Garcia, Our Lady of Hungary, South Bend; Ricardo Garcia, St. Patrick, Ligonier; Giovani Munoz, Christian Nieves and Blas Olaya, all from St. John the Evangelist, Goshen; Jose Ruvalcaba, St. Aldabert, South Bend; and Victor Sandoval and Huberto Vasquez, both from St. Patrick in Fort Wayne — entered into three years of candidacy last year.
Each candidate was called by name and each replied in Spanish: “Present,” and then went to the bishop before whom he made a sign of reverence.
Bishop Rhoades proceeded with his homily in Spanish and offered instruction on the importance of the Word of God in the ministry of the Church.
After the homily, the bishop invited all to prayer and blessed the candidates saying, “Bless our brothers who have been chosen for the ministry of lector. Grant that as they meditate constantly on Your Word they may grow in its wisdom and faithfully proclaim it to Your people.”
Then each candidate approached the bishop who gave each a Bible and said, “Take this book of holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the Word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of His people.”
Each candidate replied, “Amen.”
Many of the men expressed how much the day meant to them. Huberto Vasquez of St. Patrick in Fort Wayne shared his feelings. “It’s very special. We were given the Word of God to practice. And that it was provided by the bishop and the Church is a great honor. I receive it with humbleness about this call from God to serve the Church,” he said.
Giovanni Munoz, one of three candidates from St. John the Evangelist in Goshen, said, “It’s a really joyful day and at the same time — as I meditated on the Gospel and also the homily from bishop — I realized it’s not just about proclaiming the Word in church, but also out there,” he said.
“I think a lot about Pope Francis’ call for us to be humble servants. The bishop said the Scriptures are important but more important is our testimony — how we live out our faith according to the Scriptures,” Munoz said.
Fred Everett also said the reality of proclaiming the Word everywhere, not just during Mass, struck him as he prepared for this day and that it was a humbling thought.
Everett said they were about halfway through their formation, and in the coming semester, they were told they’d be taking a break from the academics to focus on developing preaching and teaching skills.
Deacon Stan LeMieux, director of formation for the diaconate, said it was “very gratifying to see this group who’ve worked so hard have this honor bestowed upon them. They’re very hard workers and the program is not easy to say the least,” he said.
Deacon Stan said unlike the men he went through formation with, most of these men are young with young families and fulltime jobs.
The next step for the men is the Rite of Acolyte in about 12-18 months.
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