New deacons invited to die to themselves to bear fruit 

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Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila told the newly-ordained deacons: “You will be configured to Christ, the servant, to serve as he serves, to be those who are called to proclaim the Gospel in the world, to serve at the altar in the preparations of the gifts and to perform works of charity in those you serve”.

Four transitional deacons were ordained on the cool morning of Saturday, March 2 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, marking the next step in their journey to the priesthood. The men are: Christopher James Considine, Juan Adrián Hernández, Juan Manuel Madrid and Christian James Mast.

The archbishop recounted the calling of deacons to proclaim the Word of God, serve at the altar and carry out works of charity, focusing his homily on the Gospel reading according to St. John, which was read both in English and Spanish: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12: 24).

He also highlighted the example of Monsignor Michael Glenn, who served as rector of St. John Vianney Seminary and passed away March 1 after battling a long illness: “He trusted completely in the Lord and gave his life. We are called to the same. That’s what it means to die and produce fruit, to surrender to the Father. He was a shining example of what priesthood ministry and diaconate ministry is to be about.”

Regarding the diaconal ministry of proclaiming the Word, Archbishop Aquila gave the deacons a key to help them prepare for their future homilies: “You can read all sorts of helpful materials … but if you do not know the love of Jesus Christ, if you are not in intimate relation with him, if you are not listening to the spirit, your words will be divided because you will be more focused on yourselves than Jesus Christ and proclaiming his word.”

And he emphasized the meaning of doing God’s will the way Jesus did it.

“Bear fruit to do the will of the Father. Not seeking his own will, but the will of the Father,” he said. “In our ministry, no matter where we serve, we are constantly called to serve Christ and to be with him, to be those who give our lives in obedience to Christ and to the Church, in obedience to the Father, and living in that relationship with him.”

DENVER, CO – MARCH 2: Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila prays over the new deacons Christian James Mast, Juan Manuel Madrid, Juan Adrian Hernandez and Christopher James Considine during the transitional deacon ordination at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on March 2, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

Archbishop Aquila also spoke to them about the hard times the Church is currently facing: “It is not the first time in history that there has been hostility towards the Gospel, that there has been rejection of God.  In every period of history somewhere, some place has been challenged, and in other times, it has been much greater, but we are called to be in the world and not out of the world.”

He called the promise of celibacy “a sign of contradiction in today’s world,” and, yet, also a promise that brings “joy and peace,” even if that does not mean that “your life will be without temptations.”

“[Nonetheless], the more you choose the good, the more you will depend on Jesus Christ, and his grace in the spirit that lives in you will strengthen you in the virtue of chastity,” he told the deacons.

At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Aquila thanked the deacons’ parents in English and Spanish, saying, “Without you, they would not be here.” And referred to the newly-ordained deacons, telling them, “I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you [and give you] all the virtues to be disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Deacon Christopher James Considine

DENVER, CO – MARCH 2: Christopher James Considine approaches the sanctuary during the transitional deacon ordination at Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on March 2, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

Deacon Chris Considine describes his vocation to the priesthood simply.

“God called me to be a priest, and I know there’s nothing else that would make me happier,” he said.

Deacon Considine was born in Seattle and grew up in Texas with his parents and older sister, Shannon. The family attended Mass on Sundays, and Deacon Considine remembers being a good kid.

Although he had considered the priesthood as early as high school, he felt he wasn’t mature enough to discern it wholeheartedly. It wasn’t until he started his freshman year at CU Boulder and was rejected from the fraternity he rushed for that Deacon Considine had the chance to attend a retreat at the local parish.

From that point on, the transitional deacon felt “a clear, undeniable call from the Lord, and then a resounding peace and happiness within my heart knowing that this life would bring me joy,” and he said “yes” to God’s call.

He now looks forward to celebrating the sacraments as a priest and committing his life fully to God.

“Heaven is absolutely real,” said Deacon Considine. “And that’s what it’s about — getting everybody there.”

Deacon Juan Adrián Hernández Domínguez

DENVER, CO – MARCH 2: Juan Adrian Hernandez approaches the sanctuary during the transitional deacon ordination at Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on March 2, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

Originally from Texcoco, Mex., Deacon Juan Adrian never imagined himself living so far from home. But reflecting on his life, he can see how God planted a seed in him when he was a child. One of his most memorable moments was the time when an elderly devout woman asked him if he had ever thought about the priesthood. That question prompted a curiosity that would re-flourish in his high school years. After a brief period of “ignorance and teenage rebellion against God,” the devout life of his girlfriend at the time helped him recover his faith. When considering the possibility of marriage, he was taken back by the attraction to the priesthood that resurfaced. He told his girlfriend he wanted to enter seminary and his girlfriend in turn disclosed to him her desire to become a Carmelite.

Juan Adrián entered the seminary in Texcoco but later realized that it was during mission trips that he felt most alive. This reality led him to St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver. He looks forward to serving the Spanish-speaking community in Colorado joyfully, and asks for the prayers of the faithful so that he may be a saintly priest.

Deacon Juan Manuel Madrid

DENVER, CO – MARCH 2: Juan Manuel Madrid approaches the sanctuary during the transitional deacon ordination at Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on March 2, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

Born and raised in Santiago de Chile, Deacon Juan Manuel experienced the beauty of the Catholic faith from an early age. This environment of faith instilled in him a desire to be a priest when he was nearly 5 years old. Nonetheless, such desire “froze” when he went through a “time of rebellion” during his teenage years, in which he rejected his family, the Church and God. After realizing that all the world offered for happiness only left him empty, depressed and almost suicidal, he begged God to show himself to him. A couple days later, he heard a reading at Mass that would change his life forever: “The love of Christ urges us at the thought that if one man has died for all, then all men have died, and he died for all so that those who live may live no longer for themselves but for him who died and was raised to life for them” (2 Cor 5:14-15).

He entered Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Chile and was sent to Denver as a missionary. After almost 10 years in formation, in which he has learned to value community deeply, he is very joyful to take this important step.

Deacon Christian James Mast

DENVER, CO – MARCH 2: Christian James Mast approaches the sanctuary during the transitional deacon ordination at Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on March 2, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for Denver Catholic)

Deacon CJ Mast felt Jesus call him to the priesthood on a mountain in the midst of a dangerous storm.

“As we were trying to get down, a large rock that was around four feet tall was dislodged,” said Deacon Mast. “It jumped over my back, landed on my leg, crushed it then continued to roll down the mountain.”

Father John Nepil approached Deacon Mast, asking him, “Do you trust me?”

After Deacon Mast replied that yes, he did trust him, Father Nepil asked him again more fervently, “No, do you really trust me?”

“It was in that moment that for the first time in my life, I told the Lord, ‘If you’re calling me to the priesthood, I’m all in.’”

Father Nepil carried Deacon Mast for hours down the mountain, and the then-Colorado State University student began discerning the priesthood.

A Loveland Native and cradle Catholic who grew up with his parents, two older brothers and one younger sister, Deacon Mast now looks forward to entering the fraternity of the priesthood and bringing more souls to Christ.

COMING UP: Five Hispanic-American saints perhaps you didn’t know

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The American continent has had its share of saints in the last five centuries. People will find St. Juan Diego, St. Rose of Lima or St. Martin de Porres among the saints who enjoy greater popular devotion. Yet September, named Hispanic Heritage Month, invites a deeper reflection on the lives of lesser-known saints who have deeply impacted different Latin-American countries through their Catholic faith and work, and whose example has the power to impact people anywhere around the world. Here are just a few perhaps you didn’t know.

St. Toribio de Mogrovejo
1538-1606
Peru

Born in Valladolid, Spain, Toribio was a pious young man and an outstanding law student. As a professor, his great reputation reached the ears of King Philip II, who eventually nominated him for the vacant Archdiocese of Lima, Peru, even though Toribio was not even a priest. The Pope accepted the king’s request despite the future saint’s protests. So, before the formal announcement, he was ordained a priest, and a few months later, a bishop. He walked across his archdiocese evangelizing the natives and is said to have baptized nearly half a million people, including St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres. He learned the local dialects, produced a trilingual catechism, fought for the rights of the natives, and made evangelization a major theme of his episcopacy. Moreover, he worked devotedly for an archdiocesan reform after realizing that diocesan priests were involved in impurities and scandals. He predicted the date and hour of his death and is buried in the cathedral of Lima, Peru.

St. Mariana of Jesus Paredes
1618-1645
Ecuador

St. Mariana was born in Quito, modern-day Ecuador, and not only became the country’s first saint, but was also declared a national heroine by the Republic of Ecuador. As a little girl, Mariana showed a profound love for God and practiced long hours of prayer and mortification. She tried joining a religious order on two occasions, but various circumstances would not permit it. This led Mariana to realize that God was calling her to holiness in the world. She built a room next to her sister’s house and devoted herself to prayer and penance, living miraculously only off the Eucharist. She was known to possess the gifts of counsel and prophecy. In 1645, earthquakes and epidemics broke out in Quito, and she offered her life and sufferings for their end. They stopped after she made her offering. On the day of her death, a lily is said to have bloomed from the blood that was drawn out and poured in a flowerpot, earning her the title of “The Lily of Quito.”

St. Theresa of Los Andes
1900-1920
Chile

St. Theresa of Jesus of Los Andes was Chile’s first saint and the first Discalced Carmelite to be canonized outside of Europe. Born as Juana, the future saint was known to struggle with her temperament as a child. She was proud, selfish and stubborn. She became deeply attracted to God at the age six, and her extraordinary intelligence allowed her to understand the seriousness of receiving First Communion. Juana changed her life and became a completely different person by the age of 10, practicing mortification and deep prayer. At age 14, she decided to become a Discalced Carmelite and received the name of Theresa of Jesus. Deeply in love with Christ, the young and humble religious told her confessor that Jesus told her she would die soon, something she accepted with joy and faith. Shortly thereafter, Theresa contracted typhus and died at the age of 19. Although she was 6 months short of finishing her novitiate, she was able to profess vows “in danger of death.” Around 100,000 pilgrims visit her shrine in Los Andes annually.

St. Laura Montoya
1874-1949
Colombia

After Laura’s father died in war when she was only a child, she was forced to live with different family members in a state of poverty. This reality kept her from receiving formal education during her childhood. What no one expected is that one day she would become Colombia’s first saint. Her aunt enrolled her in a school at the age of 16, so she would become a teacher and make a living for herself. She learned quickly and became a great writer, educator and leader. She was a pious woman and wished to devote herself to the evangelization of the natives. As she prepared to write Pope Pius X for help, she received the pope’s new Encyclical Lacrymabili Statu, on the deplorable condition of Indians in America. Laura saw it as a confirmation from God and founded the Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart and St. Catherine of Siena, working for the evangelization of natives and fighting or their behalf to be seen as children of God.

St. Manuel Morales
1898-1926
Mexico

Manuel was a layman and one of many martyrs from Mexico’s Cristero War in the 1920s. He joined the seminary as a teen but had to abandon this dream in order to support his family financially. He became a baker, married and had three children. This change, however, did not prevent him from bearing witness to the faith publicly. He became the president of the National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty, which was being threatened by the administration of President Plutarco Elías Calles. Morales and two other leaders from the organization were taken prisoners as they discussed how to free a friend priest from imprisonment through legal means. They were beaten, tortured and then killed for not renouncing to their faith. Before the firing squad, the priest begged the soldiers to forgive Morales because he had a family. Morales responded, “I am dying for God, and God will take care of my children.” His last words were, “Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!”