PHOTO ALBUM: Archbishop ordains four new deacons

Julie Filby

During last week’s deacon ordination, Archbishop Samuel Aquila told ordinands their new ministry must be “rooted in humility” and they should strive to serve with “the heart of Christ the Servant.”

“You will be configured to Christ the Servant,” he said during his homily Feb. 14 at the Mass of holy orders at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “Pray for the grace of humility to receive that gift.”  > Story continues below photo album

Photos by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic

The four men ordained—Brother James Claver, S.C.J.; Mason Fraley, Salvador Sánchez Gasca and Matthew Magee—are studying for the priesthood at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. Ordination to the diaconate is a step in their formation to ultimately being ordained to the priesthood.

Drawing on the liturgy’s Gospel (Mt 20: 25-28), Archbishop Aquila reminded the men that they have been called by the Lord to serve, not to be served

“You are saying, ‘I am not choosing what I want, but what God wants because it will bring me the greatest joy and happiness,’” the archbishop said. “Pray for the heart of Christ, you must desire it and cooperate with it. Pray to be like Jesus and make yourself a total self-gift.”

Below are profiles of the men that were ordained.

Deacon James Claver, S.C.J.
Age: 30
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Most inspirational saint: St. Ignatius Loyola
Deacon James Claver once doubted his faith as a child. He was sent to a Protestant middle school where he had a difficult time. But after a freshman-year retreat at a Catholic high school, Claver said, “I met the Lord in a really profound way, and as a result, I started to get really active in my parish and my youth group.” Immediately, a vocation to the priesthood was suggested to Claver, but he was opposed to the idea. Over time, he opened himself to God’s will. “I said, ‘OK, Lord, even my calculus teacher in high school can recognize that I have a vocation, and I don’t quite see this, but I will be open to your will.” He discerned his vocation while studying at Franciscan University of Steubenville and while doing missionary work in Honduras. Deacon Claver is a professed member of the Servants of Christ Jesus community.

Deacon Mason Donald Fraley
Age: 25
Home parish: St. Francis de Sales, Denver
Most inspirational saint: Sts. Josemaria Escriva and Luigi Giussani
Growing up in Denver, Deacon Mason Fraley didn’t really have any interest in the priesthood. “I was really resistant to it, because it struck me as such a radical lifestyle that was scary,” he said. But as his relationship with Christ grew, in part due to his experience attending Bishop Machebeuf High School, he began to appreciate the unique role priests have in sharing Christ with others. “(Because of) the happiness I had in relationship with Christ,” he said, “I wanted an opportunity to spend my whole life sharing him with others. Then I applied to seminary my senior year.” Prior to his ordination, the word foremost of his mind, he said, was “joyful.”

Deacon Salvador Sánchez Gasca
Age: 31
Hometown: León, Guanajuato, Mexico
Most inspirational saint: St. John Bosco
Deacon Salvador Sanchez said he had always thought about being a priest. One of his pastors encouraged him as a child, but he forgot until years later when he was prompted by God. “One day, I received the call again and then I said, ‘Yes.’” He was further inspired when he arrived in the United States. “I saw the necessity of the people, the Spanish-speaking people—they didn’t have a lot of priests who speak Spanish,” he shared. He applied to the seminary and was accepted 10 years ago. In anticipation of his ordination, Deacon Gasca said he was feeling “hopeful.”

Deacon Matthew David Magee
Age: 25
Home parish: Our Lady of Loreto, Foxfield
Most inspirational saint: St. John Paul II
The diaconate will be family affair for the Magees, as Deacon Matt Magee’s father, Michael Magee, is also an ordained deacon, serving at Our Lady of Loreto. “[My dad] started formation when I was in my sophomore year of high school,” he said. “He was ordained my first year of seminary.” Priesthood was always in the back of Deacon Matt Magee’s mind, but he didn’t take it seriously until high school. “My pastor growing up was always really influential, but I always put priesthood in the back,” he said. After discerning the last two years of high school and his first year in college, he felt God call him to enter seminary and “just had this great peace come over me,” he said.

Interviews by St. John Vianney seminarian Zachary Boazman contributed to this report.

View an additional photo album by Boazman here.

COMING UP: Pilgrimage: A journey through Church history

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“Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” Paul proclaims these words the end of the book of Acts, capping off the biblical narrative of the work of the Apostles. The story of salvation history doesn’t end with the death of the Apostles, however, but continues in the life of the Church, fulfilling the words of Paul. The Gentiles have accepted the Gospel and have built up the Kingdom of God on earth. This is our story and we continue it.

If you want to know how the story continues after Acts, I’ll be teaching a class through the Denver Catholic Catechetical School this year, called “Pilgrimage: A Journey through Church History.” It begins with the early Church and follows the story to today. The class explores the Church Fathers, the fall of Rome, the building of Christendom, the High Middles ages, the Reformation (perfect for the 500th anniversary this year), the expansion of the missions around the globe, the modern revolutions, and the Second Vatican Council. We’ll be looking at and discussing the most important historical sources and exploring the art of the various time periods. We’ll be entering into the Church’s story by allowing the key figures and events to guide us.

We see one turning point in the story in the year 430. St. Augustine lay dying in Hippo as the Vandals prepared to sack and conquer the city. Augustine lived at the end of an age as the Roman Empire slowly crumbled, but also at the beginning of a new Christian one, an age he helped forge. The great doctor of the Church thought through the implications of the rise of Christianity in an age of political decline and saw right into the heart of history. History, unlike the focus of our textbooks, finds its true course not in politics or economics, but through love.

Augustine posited that all mankind belonged to one of two cities: the City of God and the City of Man. One city took its shape by loving God before all else and the other in a love turned inward on oneself. Augustine taught us that we live as citizens of our true homeland above even within the midst of this passing world: “The glorious city of God is my theme in this work. . . . I have undertaken its defense against those who prefer their own gods to the Founder of this city—a city surpassingly glorious.” Augustine’s teaching laid the foundation for a new Christian civilization, Christendom, which sprang up amidst the ruins of Rome in Europe.

One young man unexpectedly began building the foundations for this new civilization. He was studying within the ruins of the decadent city of Rome in about the year 500 and fled the temptations of town to live as a hermit in the wilderness. Eventually, others flocked to him and he laid the foundations for monasticism throughout Western Europe. The monasteries provided the foundation upon which a new society was built. St. Benedict, for this work, has been recognized as a patron of Europe and a true father of Christendom. His Rule does not seek to build up the earthly city, but looking to the City of God to “hasten to do now what will profit us for eternity.” And this is the key to Catholic culture and history: seeking the lasting the city helps us to live better in this life, with wisdom, courage, and hope.

We are all pilgrims, living in exile in the city of this world, and journeying toward the heavenly Jerusalem: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb 13:14). And yet we have to build a city on earth and looking to the past provides inspiration for this great project. This is why we should study Church history, especially as our culture goes through a period of upheaval, not unlike St. Augustine’s time. We need the witness and the legacy of the saints and doctors to guide our pilgrimage as we continue the story of the Church. Looking to the past helps us to plot out our own path on our journey to eternal life.

Class details

“Pilgrimage: A Journey Through Church History,” John Paul II Center, Denver. Tuesdays, 9:00 AM. Information Sessions: Aug 1 and Sept 5, 9:00 AM. Classes begin Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Register at: https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1968327