WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN
Deacons Matthew Hysell, Luan Dinh Vu and Carlos Nunez take part in the Mass after their ordinations to the diaconate at St. Joseph's Basilica Aug. 27.
For Archbishop Richard Smith, the ordination of three men to the transitional diaconate Aug. 27 was a clear sign "that the Lord is moving in wonderful ways here in providing for his people."
One would have to go back many decades in the Edmonton Archdiocese to find the last time that so many potential priests were ordained deacons at the same time.
The diaconal ordinations of Carlos Nunez, 29, Luan Dinh Vu, 44, and Matthew Hysell, 34, give hope that roughly a year from now the archbishop will be ordaining them to the priesthood.
Smith said the growing number of men seeking to become priests is God's response to people's growing awareness of the need to pray for vocations.
"There is a tangible sense of joy among the people when they see men coming forward, going through the process of discernment and formation and then being called by the Church to step forward in faith and respond to that summons from the Lord," the archbishop said.
Despite the increasing difficulty of hearing God's call in today's society, "obviously the message is getting through to the hearts and minds of a lot of young men today," he said in a brief interview following the ordination Mass.
The ordination liturgy at St. Joseph's Basilica had a rich flavour, with the Second Reading (Acts 6.1-7) being proclaimed in Vietnamese and with the presence of St. Mark's Catholic Community of the Deaf to which Hysell belongs.
At the start of Mass, the archbishop, who is fluent in sign language, walked over to the deaf community and delivered a special greeting.
As well, Deacon David Hogman, a seminarian for the Victoria Diocese, chanted the Gospel from Matthew (20.25-28).
All three new deacons currently serve at parishes in Edmonton as they make their final preparations for priestly ordination.
Nunez, a native of Edmonton, is serving at Assumption Parish and also as assistant archdiocesan master of ceremonies, a role which involves helping the archbishop at liturgies as he makes his rounds through the archdiocese.
Vu, a native of Vietnam, was denied entry to the seminary in his homeland by the government and came to Canada in 2005. He studied in London, Ont., before coming to Edmonton. He is now serving at St. Edmund's Parish.
Hysell was born in Michigan and entered the Catholic Church in 1993. Because he had meningitis as an infant, he is deaf. He is fluent in American Sign Language and can lip read. Active in St. Mark's Catholic Community of the Deaf, he is serving this year at St. Thomas More Parish.
In his homily, the archbishop emphasized that while the trio were ordained to the transitional diaconate, "Its essence must henceforth mark whatever ministry you exercise in the future. Its essence is service."
The Second Reading showed the deacons not only performing the function of distributing food to widows in the Church community, but, by doing that, healing a division within the Church, he said.
Deacons are configured to Christ the Servant and Smith urged the new deacons to model their lives on Christ's example.
Father Paul Terrio, archdiocesan director of vocations, said, the ordination was "hope-filled and joyful."
"We've been praying and we're going to continue praying."
Prayer for vocations is one of the two prongs of a vocations program, Terrio said in an interview. The other is traditional recruitment - networking and "when you tap people on the shoulder."
He received a phone call as recently as Aug. 27 from a young man who is interested in learning more about the priesthood.
The archdiocese currently has 11 seminarians, including three who are just entering the program, he said. Altogether, 42 men are studying for the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary this fall.
Smith said the new buildings for the seminary and Newman Theological College are "a testimony to the faith and the hope of the people – that God will provide for us."
The ordinations, the archbishop added, also stand as a reminder of the vocation that we all share," that we're all called to different forms of service and that we're all called "to life and holiness and eternal life."