Ordained to Serve

In a major step on their journey toward priesthood, three Capuchin Franciscan friars of the Province of St. Conrad were ordained transitional deacons on March 19 in San Antonio, Texas. Brother Vincent Mary Carrasco, Br. Luke Jordan and Br. Jordan Rojas were ordained deacons by Bishop Gary Janak before a crowd of family, friends and formators at Immaculate Conception Chapel of the Oblate School of Theology.

“My dear brothers … you will exercise your diaconal service by participating in the Ministry of Charity, the Ministry of the Word, and the Ministry of the Liturgy,” Bishop Janak said during his homily, referring to the threefold service of the deacon to aid the poor, to proclaim and preach the Gospel, and to assist at the altar.

Men in priesthood formation are first ordained deacons as a transitional step to the presbyterate. The Church teaches that deacons are ordained to be a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ the Servant.

“My brothers, in the promises that you are about to make before I lay hands upon you, be reminded that indeed you, like all of us, are to conform your manner of life always to the example of Christ, whose Body and Blood you will handle on the altar,” Bishop Janak said. Emphasizing what he would again say during the ordination rite as they would be entrusted with proclaiming the Gospel, he added, “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

Capuchin Fr. Christopher Popravak, who serves as director of ministry formation, has been accompanying the three friars during their theological training. The men get spiritual formation through the Capuchin Franciscans. They attend the Oblate School of Theology for their academic studies.

“The Oblate School of Theology is famous for their pastoral training. The men have accompaniment and supervision all through the years,” Fr. Christopher told The Porter. “However, the friars also share in their training. Most recently, we friars have been going over the rituals they’ll be using in the diaconate.”

A deacon may baptize people, witness and bless marriages, and preside at funeral liturgies. A deacon cannot celebrate Mass, nor can he administer the sacrament of reconciliation or anointing of the sick. The newly ordained deacons’ first year of diaconal ministry is being conducted as a highly supervised internship, although the Oblate School’s internship year is not necessarily connected with diaconal ordination, Fr. Christopher said.

“We Capuchins decided this year to allow these men to be ordained before the academic year began so they could exercise ministry in a parish in a fuller fashion,” he said. “According to the charism of the Capuchin Franciscans, it’s important for our deacons to learn to integrate their contemplative prayer into the liturgical prayer and to learn how to balance the ministry with our fraternal life.”

Even though the newly ordained are already exercising diaconal ministry, their official assignments will begin this fall. Deacon Vincent Mary will be at St. Bernadette’s in Denver. Deacon Luke will be at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Colorado Springs. Deacon Jordan will be at St. Padre Pio Parish in San Antonio. “They will work fulltime as deacons in each of those parishes,” Fr. Christopher said, adding that the deacons will return to the Oblate School after the internship year to finish their studies.

The deacons shared their excitement about their new ministry with The Porter. “To be able to give blessings, officially preach, baptize and live as a deacon has been incredible,” Deacon Vincent Mary said. “Ministry has always been powerful, but now the reach seems to be greater…. Now, ministry seems to be much more real, or affirmed, and in a sense, blessed. So, that’s special, and I can’t wait to do more.” Deacon Vincent Mary, who goes by “Vinny,” was born and reared in Hereford, Texas, as the eldest of four siblings. His admiration for the contemplative nature of St. Francis of Assisi led him to the Capuchins. A singer-songwriter with original Christian music available on streaming services, he has a love for leading praise and worship liturgies. “Diaconal ministry for me means being transformed by God’s Word to become a servant to God’s people,” said Deacon Luke, who is a Fort Collins native and the youngest of three siblings. “As I have begun preaching, I have seen the power of Scripture to change my heart and others’ hearts.”

Deacon Luke originally intended to study art education before being captivated by theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. A devotion to St. Padre Pio and experiencing the fraternity of the Capuchin Franciscans drew him to the order.

“Diaconal ordination means a great deal to me—it excites me a lot,” said Texas native Deacon Jordan. “Mainly, because it allows me to serve as a deacon in a parish. Because I’m a transitional deacon, it means I’m a step closer to priesthood ordination.” Born and reared in small towns in west Texas and a suburb of Austin as the second youngest of four siblings, Deacon Jordan has an educational background in criminal justice and information systems, and work experience as a technical regional project manager for Dell. He was drawn to the Capuchin Franciscans through experiencing their prayer and fraternity. “The two tables facet of the friars’ life were very impactful—the table of the altar, and the dinner table with the brothers,” he said, adding that his ordination filled him with joy. “I couldn’t stop smiling that day. In fact, I was still smiling the next day!”

The newly ordained deacons are already receiving praise for their ministry from parishioners, Fr. Christopher said. “I am very impressed about their ability to proclaim the Gospel—to preach. They are very gifted in connecting with people,” he said. “It is so vital today to preach in a way that touches peoples’ hearts and reaches them, especially in an age of confusion. I think these three men have a special gift. I really do.”