Eleven men were ordained to the diaconate on June 20 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila served as the ordaining prelate.
Before the homily, a deacon called for each of the candidates by name. The archbishop accepted all 11 men for ordination.
Archbishop Aquila gave his homily on the day’s readings: Jer 1:4-9 (“before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…” Acts 8:26-40 (Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch) and Jn 15:9-17 (part of the Last Supper discourses). The archbishop emphasized that the new deacons must rest in Christ’s love to be able to fulfill their ministry.
“The Lord assures Jeremiah, and assures us today, that when he formed us in the womb he knew us,” he said. “You must know in your own heart that each of you is a beloved son of Jesus.”
He told them not to be afraid if persecutions come, because Christ will send his spirit, just as he did to Philip when he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch.
“You will be called to proclaim Jesus. Not what you think about Jesus, not your own thoughts and opinions, but Jesus,” Archbishop Aquila said.
He also reminded the men that there would be no room for pride in their ministry.
“You will be configured to Christ the servant through Jesus. Remember that Jesus came to serve. He had no spirit of entitlement,” Aquila said.
The archbishop also explained the deacons’ specific roles, which include proclaiming the Gospel and preparing the altar.
“In serving the word, you will be called to proclaim the Gospel. You will need to encounter Jesus in that word, so that you may preach him,” the archbishop said. “Deacons are entrusted especially with the precious blood. It is a reminder that you are called to give your lives.”
Along with this, he reminded them that they had to serve their primary vocation first.
“Your first vocation, your first state in life, is your marriage. It will be important for you to seek a balance between your ministry and our family,” he said.
“Your family must never come second. You must love your wives and children.”
After the homily, each of the elect stood before the archbishop and declared their intention to be ordained. They promised to be consecrated, to discharge their office with humility so as to assist the priestly order, to preserve and proclaim the mystery of faith, to deepen their spirit of prayer, and to be conformed to the Lord’s body and blood.
Each individual deacon then knelt before the archbishop and placed their hands between his.
“Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?” the archbishop asked.
“I do,” each of the elect said.
“May God who has begun a good work in you bring it to fulfillment,” the archbishop said.
The men lay prostrate before the altar while the choir and congregation sang a litany of the saints and of supplication.
The archbishop then laid hands on each of the elect and silently said the prayers of ordination.
After their ordination, the deacons were invested with the stole and dalmatic, which serve as an outward manifestation of their ordination. Each was then presented with the book of the Gospels and exhorted to believe, teach and practice what he reads. Then the archbishop and all the deacons present gave the newly ordained the kiss of peace to welcome them into the ministry.
The Mass then proceeded, with the newly ordained deacons moving into the sanctuary to assist at the Mass.
Meet Denver’s new deacons
Deacon August Cordova
Parish: St. John the Evangelist Parish, Loveland
Family: Wife, Regina, and three children
Deacon August Cordova considers himself a product of St. Pope John Paul II. “He’s been very inspirational in my life,” he said. He attended World Youth Day Denver 1993, Manila 1995, Paris 1997, Rome 2000 and Toronto 2002. He was first asked about considering the diaconate in Toronto. The suggestion came again when working as director of religious education at St. John the Evangelist in Loveland. A deacon said, “August, you have a big ‘D’ on your forehead. You should consider signing up for the diaconate.” With the support of his family, he entered the diaconate. “I really feel that’s what God is calling me to do is participating in the diakonia, which means servant in Greek,” he said. He continues to work at St. John the Evangelist and spends his free time with his family. “The formation has been wonderful not only for me but my wife,” Deacon Cordova said. “Because of the diaconate and the formation, we have grown spiritually like you wouldn’t believe. It’s been a beautiful journey.”
Deacon Michael Daly
Hometown: Albuquerque, N.M.
Parish: Our Lady of Fatima, Lakewood
Family: Wife, Megan, and six children
When Deacon Michael Daly was asked if he thought about being a deacon, he laughed and said, “No, I’m the wrong guy.” The call to the diaconate became stronger in 2002, and he said he prayed for a long time about it, telling God he thought he was the wrong guy for the job. He has a busy schedule with a wife and six children and working in law enforcement for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “But God knows better than me. The call just never stopped,” he said. As deacon, he said he would most like to help people realize their dignity and to see the face of Jesus. “I would really like to help everyone come to know the reality that Jesus is a person and that he exists right here and now,” Deacon Daly said. He credits the Holy Spirit with making the diaconate possible. “I’m excited and I’m just humbled that God has brought me all of this way.”
Deacon Timothy Hathaway
Assigned Parish: Mother of God Parish, Denver, and Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Family: Wife, Jessie, two children and six grandchildren
Deacon Timothy Hathaway has spent his life in service. First, he served his country for more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. Now he wants to serve the Church. “When I grew in my faith, I felt the need to serve my Church more,” he said. He was asked if he wanted to become a deacon while stationed in Oceanside, Calif., and then again, after retiring from the Marine Corps., at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. He accepted the call and began diaconal formation. “I’m increasingly aware of my unworthiness but at the same time eager to begin working again to build our Church in whatever small way that I’m called to do through my various ministries as assigned by the archbishop or as assigned by the Holy Spirit,” he said. He’s looking forward to bringing more people into the Church and leading them to the sacraments.
Deacon Robert Hoffman
Parish: Christ the King Church, Evergreen
Family: Wife, Bonnie, and two children and four grandchildren
After he left for college, Deacon Robert Hoffman left the Catholic faith he was raised in. For 22 years he led a pagan lifestyle questioning God’s existence. “I was a normal person sinning on a regular basis with no conscience,” he said. During that time, unbeknownst to him, his mother and sister prayed for him to return to the Church. He returned to his faith in the 90s and began to attend St. Thomas More Church in Centennial in 1994. Then came the questions about the diaconate. “No, I would never make a good deacon,” was his response. Over time he felt God was calling him to give back those 22 years he spent away from the faith. “I wasn’t going to say ‘no’ anymore,” Deacon Hoffman said. Although he doesn’t believe he has the gifts his brother deacons do, he said he’s confident this is what God wants him to do. “I just have to trust in God and his graces to help me be the deacon he wants me to be. I don’t consider myself anything special at all. What will be special is what God uses me for.”
Deacon Mladen Martinovic
Hometown: Mostar, Bosnia
Parish: St. Louis Parish, Englewood
Family: Wife, Vesna, and five children
When his country was occupied by communists, the secret police tried to squash the faith of its citizens. As a young boy, Deacon Mladen Martinovic said he had a strong faith and felt the call to serve God. “I had to talk to everybody about God,” he said. But the government demanded citizens deny God in public, but he wouldn’t. From 1984-1991 he was taken from school and into police headquarters where he was subjected to long periods of persecution in a dark room. He eventually fled to Germany with his uncle, nearly escaping death. “I left my country that was calling was still there. It never stopped,” he said. He married his wife in Germany and they came to Denver in 1997. He began to learn English and the call to the diaconate returned. “I think God is always the one who planted it,” he said. With his wife’s witness and support, he was able to go through formation. He looks forward to serving the Croatian community at St. Louis Parish in Englewood. “I can’t wait to start.”
Deacon Marc Nestorick
Family: Wife, Pattie, and three children.
Deacon Nestorick never imagined he would become a deacon. However, he says God used his prayer life to bring him to this service.
“Looking back on it now, I can say that it is through this journey in formation to become a deacon that God is working through me to help me better be the son he wants me to be. He is also using this as a way to help my family further their relationship with him,” Deacon Nestorick said.
Deacon Nestorick says he is looking forward to meeting new people and learning more about God while serving them.
Deacon Efrain Pruneda
Family: Wife, Lili, and three children
Deacon Pruneda was inspired to become a deacon by the preaching he heard at Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora. Then he learned that one of his sons was being challenged for his faith in school and had chosen to defend it.
“Then all of a sudden the Holy Spirit struck me to the core, and I thought, ‘What am I doing for the Lord??’ How am I getting out of my comfort zone for the one who gave his life for me??’ I realized that my gifts and skills as a person were not for my own benefit, they were for the Lord, they are for his glory,” Deacon Pruneda said.
Pruneda has already begun to pray for his future parishioners. “I pray for you wherever you are, I pray that the Lord will allow me to love you and care for you as much as I have dreamed,” he said.
Deacon Gregory Reynolds
Family: Wife, Melissa, and 24 nieces and nephews
Deacon Reynolds became an altar server in the fourth grade. He later discerned the priesthood, but realized he was called to married life. He prayed about the permanent diaconate for many years, until an exasperated friend asked him why he wasn’t a deacon yet. Deacon Reynolds said he is excited to see where the Holy Spirit guides the archbishop to place him. He also looks forward to serving at the Mass.
“I know it will be humbling to do what I am called to do in helping the Mass flow smoothly and bring Christ to the people through the proclamation of the Gospel and distribution of the Eucharist,” he said.
Deacon Stanley Rymes
Family: Wife, Ana, and three sons
Deacon John McKeown has been prodding Deacon Rymes toward the diaconate for years.
“When I finally announced to my wife, Ana, that I’m applying for the deacon formation program she replied, ‘It’s what I’ve been praying for!’” Rymes said.
Rymes said he is humbled by his call.
“At this time I’m feeling a sense of awe and wonder. I’m excited to discover how I can best serve my assigned parish and my archbishop,” Deacon Rymes said.
Deacon David Thompson
Family: Wife, Vicki, and three children
Deacon David Thompson says there isn’t one particular event that prodded him toward the diaconate. However, ever since he was initiated into the church, many ministers have suggested it to him.
Deacon Thompson and his wife got involved in Marriage Encounter about seven years ago.
“That was the start of me falling in love with faith and all it has to offer,” Deacon Thompson said.
Thompson said he thinks that the ministry will match his interests.
“I’m most looking forward to sharing the excitement of my faith with others,” he said. “I like to serve, so it just seems like the next step forward for me.”
Deacon Dennis Wallisch
Family: Wife, Beth, and three kids
Deacon Dennis Wallisch grew up in a strong Catholic home, which he believes helped foster his vocation.
“My parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and brothers and sister are or were good-practicing Catholics who give me or gave me great examples,” Wallisch said.
Wallisch’s youngest brother is now a priest. In addition, his wrestling coach went on to become a permanent deacon, as did the father of the best man in his wedding.
“All these people showed me what it means to serve others. The priests and deacons that I have known in my life have shown me how to lead a life oriented to God.”