By PAUL A. BARRA
AIKEN — The Rev. Mr. Lee Selzer was ordained to the diaconate at St. Mary Help of Christian Church on July 7. He will be ordained a priest next summer.
Bishop Robert J. Baker ordained the new deacon with a laying on of hands and quoted Pope John Paul II in advising him to lead a holy life now that he was committed to a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience.
“‘The true measure of your success,’ he said, ‘will consist in a greater holiness and in a more loving service to those in need, helping all in love and truth.’ I wanted to share that message with Lee today as he embarks on a new stage of service to the Lord and the Church,” Bishop Baker said.
Deacon Selzer said that he accepts his new vows as permanent and made them only as a consequence of a long and intense period of discernment. He told his family and the congregation of his adopted parish following the moving consecration ceremony that they helped in that discerning process: “I would not stand here today without your prayers.”
He also had the complete blessing of his family. His mother, Catherine Selzer, said that she knew he wanted to be a priest since his First Communion and that she encouraged him. Lee Selzer is an only son, but his father saw a greater good being served than the passing down of the family name.
“What more could you ask for in a son,” said Robert A. Selzer, a retired Army intelligence officer. “(His vocation) is essential and a blessing.”
All four of the new deacon’s sisters participated in the celebration. One, Rebecca Kirker, cried tears of joy during the ordination of her only brother.
“His faith is amazing,” she said. “We’re so proud of him.”
Father Dennis Willey, diocesan director of vocations, said that he is as certain as he can be that Selzer, a fellow alumnus of The Citadel, will make a good priest in the years to come: “No second thoughts there.”
According to his spiritual advisor at Mundelein Seminary, Father Paul Wachdorf, the new deacon will go back in the fall as a member of the clergy and will assist at seminary events and will work in local parishes before his ordination to the presbyterate. That work will add to an already diverse resume.
After graduating from the Charleston military college, Selzer worked as a computer expert in a publishing house in Massachusetts and went to Belize, on the Guatemalan border, as a lay missioner with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity before entering the seminary to study for the priesthood. His sister Wendy read the second reading on July 7 in Spanish, symbolically connecting to his love of Hispanic ministry.
Besides two dozen family members, eight fourth degree members of the Knights of Columbus and five current seminarians of the Diocese of Charleston, nine priests participated in the ordination celebration. One, the Midlands master of ceremonies, Father Tim Lijewski, said that diaconate ordinations are major events for the diocese.
“These ordinations are big. What I love about them is that they are a time of hope. It gives us hope, during this priest shortage, when someone else says yes,” Father Lijewski said.
Selzer will be the only priest ordained for the Diocese of Charleston in 2002, according to Father Willey. Five seminarians are scheduled to be ordained to the diaconate then, however, and the diocese should have about two dozen seminarians in training at that time.
Selzer is the grandson of Helen Buehler of Merritt Island, Fla. He was born there and was raised in various locales around the world. He will soon become a permanent resident of South Carolina.