“Don’t say that you’re too young!”: Four men ordained to the transitional diaconate

During the diaconate ordination this past Saturday, February 10th, in The Cathedral Basilica of The Immaculate Conception in Denver, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila told the four candidates to not feel too young when responding to the call of God. The new deacons are Julio Cesar Amezcua, Witold Kaczmarazyk, Adam Baradshaw and Mateusz Ratajczak.

The Archbishop referred to the first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, when the Lord told him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you,” to which Jeremiah responded: “Ah Lord God! I know not how to speak; I am too young.”

“Never fear speaking of God, never fear speaking the truth always in charity and with love,” exhorted the archbishop to the four candidates.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila exchanges the fraternal kiss of peace with Adam Bradshaw (R) during the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on February 10, 2018, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

“You, my beloved sons, as ordained deacons will be entrusted with proclaiming the Word of God, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and teaching,” he later said. Following this, he told them that in this stage of the diaconate, “Whether you are presiding a wedding or whether you celebrate the rites of the Church, you are called to constantly proclaim Jesus Christ, to proclaim his Word and not your word.”

With respect to the Gospel, the archbishop emphasized that it’s necessary to die in order to give the fruits of eternal life. This death signifies that Jesus “will fulfill also his promises that he will give us the joy of the Gospel, even in the suffering that we may experience, that joy is always there and there is a joy that no one can take.”

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila lays his hands on Witold Kaczmarzyk and prays the prayer of ordination during the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on February 10, 2018, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

Then, Archbishop Aquila reminded them of the vow of celibacy that they would make a few moments later: “Giving yourselves completely first to the trinity — to the Father, to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, following in the steps of Jesus and in the steps of the apostles who gave up everything, even marriage, to follow Jesus”.

He warned them: “Celibacy is not easy, as marriage is not easy. Ask the married couples. They will tell you”. He continued telling them that celibacy is a gift of the Church and that being faithful to this promise will allow them to have a free, undivided heart for pastoral service. He indicated to them that to support this promise, “Jesus always come first,” and he advised that they “pray for the grace of chastity. Do not depend on yourselves but depend on the Lord and the spirit and trust that he will give you the grace. It is the Eucharist that sustains us.”

At the end of the mass, the Archbishop thanked all of those present who were testaments of this ordination. To the parents that gave them life and the gift of their Catholic faith, to the seminary rectors for their work in formation, and also for the four new deacons; for their “yes” to the Lord’s call and for their open hearts to the Lord as a sign of the power of the love of Jesus Christ.

COMING UP: Meet Denver’s newest transitional deacons, ordained Feb. 10

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On Saturday, Feb. 10, four seminarians studying for the Archdiocese of Denver were ordained to the transitional diaconate, putting each of them one step closer to the priesthood.

Adam Bradshaw attends St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver; Julio Cesar Amezcua and Mateusz Ratajczak both study at Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Denver; and Witold Kaczmarzyk attends Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Detroit, Mich.

Adam Bradshaw

Adam Bradshaw was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and lived what he calls a “pretty typical” life. His family moved to Golden, Colo., in 2005, an he worked at the gift shop at Coors brewery for six years, up until he entered seminary. His home parish is St. Joseph’s in Golden, which is where his faith was planted and fostered. He went through the RCIA program there, which is when he first felt the tug from God toward the priesthood. After being fully received into the Church, he felt on fire for the Lord, and decided to enter the seminary. “I knew God was calling me to something so much deeper than the life I had been living up to that point,” he said. As he gets closer to becoming a priest, Bradshaw is most excited to “bring Christ into the lives of all his children and to administer his sacraments.” St. John the Baptist played a vital role in his discernment of the priesthood, and he requested that Venerable Satoka Kitahara’s name be sung during his ordination, a holy Japanese woman who served the poor in Tokyo after World War II.

Julio Cesar Amezcua

Julio Cesar Amezcua hails from Madrid, Spain, where he was born and raised into a family of five. “My childhood was a happy one,” he recalled. He attended Catholic school and grew up playing soccer and riding horses. When he turned 21, he moved to Denver to study psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. It was there he met Father Angel Perez-Lopez, who helped him grow in his faith and eventually led him to join a community of the Neocatechumenal Way in 2009. After a discernment period of a few months, Amezcua felt the Lord was calling him to enter Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary. The missionary calling of his eventual priesthood is very appealing to him. “This is what excites me the most,” he said. “It means that the Lord can take me anywhere in the world at any moment.” Amezcua served in Boston during his mandatory year of mission outside of the seminary, and saw firsthand the challenges the Church in Boston is facing: intensifying secularization. “This event opened my eyes to the difficulties that we can face in Denver if we don’t evangelize,” he said.

Mateusz Ratajczak

Born in Pila, Poland, in 1989, Mateusz Ratajczak is the eldest of six children. He became attracted the priesthood as early as eight years old, when he began serving as an altar boy. He lost his attraction to this vocation during his teenage years, where he rebelled against his family and his faith. However, at the age of 18, the Lord called him back to the Church through the Neocatechumenal Way, and he eventually entered Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Denver. He believes it was through the seminary’s patron saint, St. Casmir, that he was sent to Denver. Ratajczak spent three years on mission in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, which he said was a “time of desert” for him, “During which I could experience God’s providence daily.” As he gets closer to the priesthood, Ratajczak said he wants to “share with others the immense mercy of God I experienced in my life. I am very excited to share the Good News of the Resurrection and communicate it through preaching and the sacraments.”

Witold Kaczmarzyk

As a child growing up in Poland, Witold Kaczmarzyk was taught by his parents that “Without God, I could do nothing.” He grew up in a devout Catholic family that cared very much about his education. In 2010, Kaczmarzyk was a student of the faculty of Physics at Warsaw University of Technology, and it was around this time that he began reading the bible to delving deeper into his faith. He would speak with other students about his faith, and it was due to them that his vocation “came to the surface,” he said. He received his parents’ blessing to drop out of the university and began to study theology. After working as a science tutor, a sales clerk in a furniture factory and falling in love with a girl, Kaczmarzyk felt that the Lord was calling him to enter the seminary, so he did. He began attending a seminary in his home diocese of Kalisz, Poland, and eventually transferred to Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Detroit, which specializes in training Polish seminarians to serve in the U.S. He is most excited to “love, serve and walk” with the people of the Archdiocese of Denver in their journey of faith.

Featured image by Anya Semenoff