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Archives Two priests, three deacons ordained

August 12, 2020

By Darcy Fargo

OGDENSBURG – “Go out to all the world and tell the good news: Jesus Christ is risen, and he lives among us. Brothers, your task, the mission with which you are charged this day, is to win people for Christ with apostolic zeal, and to teach, govern and sanctify them in the name of Jesus.”

Those were the words of Bishop Terry R. LaValley as he prepared to ordain Jude Nnadibuagha and Severinus Torwoe to the priesthood, and Matthew Conger, John Kennedy Ojouk and Donald Wilder to the diaconate on Aug. 1 in St. Mary’s Cathedral.

The cathedral, with two of every three pews blocked off to comply with social distancing requirements, was sparsely filled with mask-wearing priests, deacons and the family and friends of the men who would be ordained.
The First Reading was read by Catherine Russell, diocesan vocation coordinator, and the Second Reading was read by Joyce Wilder. The Gospel was proclaimed by Deacon Kevin Mastellon, director of diocesan permanent deacons.

After the Gospel, Deacon Fernando Solomon presented the candidates for the diaconate, and Father Christopher C. Carrara, director of seminarians, requested that the men be ordained.

“Most Reverend Father, Holy Mother Church asks you to ordain these men, our brothers, to the responsibility of the diaconate,” Father Carrara said, addressing Bishop LaValley.

“Do you know them to be worthy?” Bishop LaValley asked.

“After inquiry among the Christian people and upon the recommendation of those responsible, I testify that they have been found worthy,” Father Carrara answered.

“Relying n the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Diaconate,” Bishop LaValley responded.

Deacon Solomon then presented the candidates for priesthood, and Father Carrara used similar language in requesting that they be ordained.

“Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood,” Bishop LaValley responded.

In his homily, Bishop LaValley thanked the five men for their willingness to serve God and the Church and thanked their families for supporting their vocations.

“Brothers, let me begin by expressing my gratitude to each of you for offering your lives to Jesus Christ in ordained ministry,” he said. “I am particularly grateful to your parents and your wife and your families for their faith witness and support of your vocational discernment. Unfortunately, some of your loved ones can’t be here due to the pandemic. I do hope your family, whether in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya or stateside are able to participate via livestreaming.”

Bishop LaValley also welcomed Bishop Douglas J. Lucia, bishop of Syracuse, to the ordination. Bishop Lucia previously served as director of vocations for the Diocese of Ogdensburg and worked with the men being ordained during their discernment and formation.

Bishop LaValley then reminded the assembly about the role of the ordained clergy.

“My friends, these men before us now are to be advanced to the Order of Deacons and Order of Priests,” he said. “They are to serve Christ, the teacher, the priest and shepherd, by whose ministry his body, the Church, is continually being built up here on earth into the people od God. These our brothers will be consecrated for the preaching of the Gospel for the sanctification of God’s people and for divine worship. With the help of God, and our prayers and our support, they shall go about all these duties in such a way, in such a way that we will recognize them as true disciples of him who came not to be served, but to serve.”

Bishop LaValley reminded the men to be ordained that they are called to use their unique gifts in the service of the Lord.

“Jesus chooses his disciples by name,” he said. “And how different we are by temperament and personality. There is no perfect human model. The hearts of each of you here to be ordained beat with the same passionate love for Jesus. Still, you’re very different. Your gifts, your personalities will touch different people in different ways, and it seems that’s the richness, that’s a gift. That’s the attractiveness of ordained ministry. As Paul wrote to the Romans, we all have different gifts. Use them to build up the one Body of Christ.”

Bishop LaValley also reminded the men that “fraternal support is crucial.”

“You’ve heard mem mention it often: Ours is not a Lone Ranger ministry,” Bishop LaValley said. “When one is ordained, he does not obtain a permit to set up private practice. The priests and deacons of this local church are second to none – Sorry, Bishop (Lucia) – of which I am so very proud. We call each other up. We talk about our struggles. We check on one another. We care. That’s so important. We should never become strangers to each other.”

Bishop LaValley also cautioned the men to “beware of the routine of prayer, of Mass, of coworkers.”

“You know close associations with people or things can lead to a loss of respect for them,” he said. “Knowing someone or something very well, we can easily become bored with them and stop treating them with respect or stop paying attention to them. We can take them for granted. When we continually encounter the sacred, be it the Mass or any of the sacraments, they risk becoming routine for us, and reverential fear can be extinguished. Conditioned by all our habits, we no longer perceive the great, ever-new and surprising fact that God himself is present, speaks to us, gives himself to us. So, my brothers, celebrate every sacrament as if it were for the first time, the last time, the only time.”

Following the homily, the elect for the diaconate and then the priesthood stood before Bishop LaValley and expressed their resolve to carry out their office in accord with the mind of Christ and the Church. The five men then prostrated themselves as a sign of humility for the Litany of Supplication.

After the Litany, Bishop LaValley laid hands on Conger, Ojuok and Wilder, and prayed the Prayer of Ordination, conferring the gifts of the Holy Spirit and ordaining the men as deacons. The three men were then vested in stoles and dalmatics and were handed the Book of the Gospels.

Deacon Donald Wilder is a permanent deacon, serving as chaplain at the Watertown Correctional Facility and the Cape Vincent Correctional Facility. He also serves St. Patrick’s, St. Anthony’s and Holy Family parishes in Watertown. Deacon Conger and Deacon Ojuok, transitional deacons, will return to Christ the King Seminary to complete their studies toward priesthood later this summer.

After ordaining the three deacons, Bishop LaValley laid hands on (then) Deacons Nnadibuagha and Torwoe, conferring on them the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the office of priest.

“Grant, we pray, Almighty Father, to these your servants the dignity of the Priesthood,” the write states.

Father Nnadibuagha and Father Torwoe were then vested in the stole and chasuble, their hands were anointed, and they were handed the bread and wine for the celebration of the Mass. A limited number of priests and deacons of the diocese also laid hands on the new priests, praying for them and welcoming them.

The new priests and deacons joined Bishop LaValley, Bishop Lucia and other priests and deacons of the diocese in celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

At the conclusion of the Ordination Mass, Father Nnadibuagha and Father Torwoe gave Bishop LaValley their first blessings.


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