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: Helping others: the ride of your life

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Near the beginning of a 464-mile bike tour, my right knee gave out. I pulled over to a Ride the Rockies aid station in a tiny town in Colorado and lay down in the grass, in pain, my knee swollen. I felt alone and helpless. When I received help, my sense of relief and security was overwhelming. When you can’t help yourself, it’s a cold and lonely feeling. It really takes your breath away.

Now, imagine the helplessness of someone experiencing homelessness: foraging for food in trash bins, hunkered down under a bridge or not sleeping for fear of harm. It’s not something you would ever want to experience. But thousands of our brothers and sisters across the country do experience homelessness. One-fifth of them are children.

There is good news. The estimated number of homeless people has trended down in the past decade. The sad news, in Colorado, is that we’re counter to the trend. Between 2015 and 2016, when overall homelessness (including people in families) dropped 2.6 percent nationally, Colorado experienced the single-largest percentage increase of homeless individuals (12.6 percent) of any state, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The causes are many and varied. What’s important is what we do about it. At the Samaritan House homeless shelter in downtown Denver, of those individuals and families who complete the first 30 days of the Levels Program that includes life skills, more than 60 percent leave the shelter with housing in place. More than 90 percent have income in place.

This year, we will open the Samaritan House Women’s Shelter in northeast Denver to accommodate 150 women a night. We’re also moving our administrative offices to that location to be in closer community with those we serve. With your help, Catholic Charities is providing hope in the face of helplessness.

That’s also why, for the seventh consecutive year, Team Samaritan House is part of Ride the Rockies. I was on the ride in 2015 when my knee gave out. This year, I’ll be part of the support team as 40 members of Team Samaritan House pedal a 447-mile loop from Alamosa to Salida from June 10 to June 17. Why do they ride? For the love of the homeless and to raise $150,000 to support the shelters of Catholic Charities. Those riders are spending many hours in the saddle. I encourage you to support one or more of them at samhousedenver.org/rtr.

And after you do that, make plans to come down to Samaritan House and help serve dinner to the poor. You’ll be much richer for it. On a training run, one of our riders met a group of three men from Australia, riding their bikes. Just because they wanted to be a part of it, the men ended up helping Team Samaritan House serve a special pig roast dinner to residents of the shelter.

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” proclaims St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7.

Join us. Let’s race together to serve others.

 

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver. Visit online at ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.