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: Mother Mary: Modeling joy even in suffering

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Where would we be without our mothers? We wouldn’t be! Father Gregory Cleveland, OMV, shares a beautiful quote from Cardinal Mindszenty on the importance of motherhood: “The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. . . . Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature: God joins force with mothers in performing this act of creation (Beholding Beauty, Pauline Books & Media, 2020, 106).  

The same principle applies in the spiritual life. Mary cooperated with God in such a unique way that without her we simply wouldn’t be the spiritual sons and daughters of the Father that he wants us to be. The Creator came into the world through her, enabling all of us to be reborn. On the Cross, Jesus gave everything to us, including his mother: “Behold your mother” (John 19:27). She cares for us as her son’s own beloved disciple, extending to us her motherly love, and showing us the true model of Christian love. As we show our appreciation to our own mothers this Mother’s Day, Mary models for us the joys of motherhood that endure even the most difficult moments.  

Father Cleveland, the director of the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Denver, helps us to reflect on Mary’s essential role as mother and model in his book Beholding Beauty: Mary and the Song of Songs. The book uses passages from the Old Testament poem, the Song of Songs, as a springboard to come to know Mary as in her deep love for God. The biblical book speaks of the love of Solomon and his beloved, referring allegorically to God’s love for his people. Rather than offering a Bible study, Cleveland connects the Song to the New Testament, offering a portrait of Mary as God’s beloved and how we can come closer to Jesus through her, imitating her spousal love of God. Each chapter offers practical examples and questions for reflection, making the book ideal for daily meditation.  

The book explains the unique privileges of Mary, while using them to invite us to share in them as well: “No human being ever received God’s love and grace as fully as did Mary, to the point of God becoming man in her. She conceived Christ in her heart and then in the womb. Mary, as spouse of the Holy Spirit, shows us our capacity to receive God and be entirely possessed by him. In receiving Christ, she was also empowered to completely give herself to him, spirit, soul, and body, in love as his mother. She became his partner in the work of salvation and was exalted to reign with him as Queen of heaven and earth” (2). Mary models the life of the disciple in giving oneself completely to God so that he becomes fully present in our lives and through us to others.  

Mary’s vocation of motherhood leads directly to her queenship in drawing others closer to her Son. Her motherhood is founded in her fiat, her “yes” to the will of God at the Annunciation. In her role as Queen Mother, she asks us to imitate her obedience when she says at the Wedding of Cana, “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Fathe Cleveland explains the need for a daily obedience that will inconvenience us and even interrupt our lives: “Mary invites us to do whatever Jesus tells us. When we come to serve the Lord, we first listen to what Jesus is asking of us. . . . As servants of Christ and others, we are willing to be available and inconvenienced in offering people our practical and substantial help. We allow ourselves to be interrupted by people crossing our paths and overturning our plans with their claims and petitions” (153). Mothers know better than anyone else that love requires this willingness to stop everything to attend to others’ needs.  

Even after much sacrifice, however, we know that so often things do not turn out as we expect. Mary models the necessity of suffering in giving our lives to Christ and sacrificially loving others: “Just as Christ gave the blood of his heart to the last drop, so Mary completely gave of her heart, broken in compassion. Mary’s yes to God, her vocation to motherhood, her purpose in life, all seemed to be extinguished. She would naturally have cause for the deepest possible despair, and yet she was given supernatural hope. She abandoned herself to the Father’s will and trusted his plan. Her fiat was then realized in a completely new way and offered with Christ in those ignoble circumstances. We too are called to co-offer Christ’s sacrifice” (138). Mary’s suffering shows the full extent of her motherhood — not just bringing life forth but offering it to God. Giving birth is painful and the bringing forth of spiritual life, likewise, requires sacrifice. The Song of Songs shows how greatly God desires us and calls us to put him first, sacrificing other things to focus on him above all else. God asks us to trust in him even when things do not make sense or when we’ve been hurt by those we love.  

Overall, Beholding Beauty invites us to focus on the eternal a wedding feast of the lamb, to which God is calling us, a perfect union that Mary already models for us. Father Cleveland explains how Mary’s relationship with God serves as both a model and invitation for us: “Our encounter with Mary will always lead us to Jesus. She is one with Jesus in the desires of his heart. Her only desire is that we share the same life of heavenly beatitude that she enjoys. Mary is the queenly maiden of the Song of Songs .  . . We entrust our lives to her as our exceedingly beautiful queen, knowing that she will guide us to Christ our King” (229). In giving herself completely to God and loving him completely, Mary could serve as God’s mother and our spiritual mother as well. 

This Mother’s Day, let’s be grateful for our earthly mothers and also for our heavenly mother who teaches us how to love God and our family more fully.  


Featured image: The Annunciation, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1660