On April 6, 1974, 10 men knelt before the Archbishop of Denver who laid hands on them, invoking the Holy Spirit and imprinting on each of them an indelible character that changed their lives forever. As many of you know, Deacon Ron Ansay was among those men first ordained.
These men started from scratch as did the first formation directors, Msgrs. Horrigan and Admundson who are also here to celebrate with us. These holy priests built the foundation of the program. They answered the call of their own ministry awakening the history of the early Church as we entered a new phase of diaconal responsibility. For this, we should be forever grateful.
Forty years and almost 300 Deacons later, men are still heeding the vocational call to service, liturgy and word in Denver. Currently, there are 180 deacons engaged in different forms of diaconal ministry from standing up for the unborn life in the womb to standing against the abusive treatment of the helpless.
These men know that their vocation is not for their own ego-centric interest and this is not why they continue to minister in their vocation. They minister because they are men of God. They are confident in knowing their ministry is not based on pride; rather it is to lift up the lowly and rejected of this world in joy. Nor is it for self-promotion or financial gain, but to boldly proclaim the Gospel to a world that has lost its hold on the truth; nor is it for prestige and recognition; rather the vocation of the Deacon is to focus our eyes and the eyes of the faithful on the Master, Jesus Christ. This is the role of the Deacon in the Church!
So, I want to take this time to thank God for the wonderful witness of faith you have been to me as brother deacons. Thanks also to the many brother priests who provide direction and spiritual growth to our deacon community. Your wonderful example of faith and holiness is very important to us.
I am also grateful to God for the wives and family members of the Deacon community for their love and commitment–and for the many sacrifices they endure because of the Deacon vocation. I pray that, through the Deacon’s commitment to the Church, that you are also enriched with grace.
Finally, I thank God for the Archbishops that have been given to us over the past 40 years. In particular, I am grateful for the leadership and paternal care of Archbishop Aquila. He has been incredibly strong in the defense of the very people we, as clergy, and the faithful, are called to care for in the Beatitudes.
The Deacons in the Archdiocese of Denver have been blest indeed. So, let us celebrate with joy as we continue to write the history of the diaconate in the Church! May these blessings from our Almighty God continue to burn brightly within all of us and lead us on our journey towards our final goal in Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen