Hope and joy were common threads that ran throughout St. Mary Church on May 18 as people celebrated the Rite of Ordination for two new deacons, Francisco Javier Onate Vargas and Jimmy Touzeau.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone was the celebrant of the ordination, which was witnessed by hundreds of worshipers.
Seminarians Onate Vargas and Touzeau were ordained to the transitional diaconate. Their studies will continue and each man is expected to be ordained to the priesthood in about a year.
The two new deacons will have a wide range of responsibilities within the Church, Bishop Guglielmone said, noting that they will be able to preside over public prayer, assist with and bless marriages, and conduct funeral rites.
“With the help of God they will go about these duties in such a way that you will recognize them as disciples of Him who came, not to be served, but to serve,” the bishop explained during his homily. He then charged the two men to, in part, “always seek to work with others, always affirming and respecting their gifts, for together we can advance the reign of God. Work with priests, with brother deacons, with religious and lay people, knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells within all of God’s people, and challenges them all to share these gifts in the community.”
He also stressed the importance of both men maintaining their close relationships to God.
“You must stay connected to Jesus,” he said. “You must remain in his love. That is where you get the strength to go far beyond what you yourself might think you are able to do. That is where we seek the joy and fulfillment that enables you to love God’s people as he loves you.”
Bishop Guglielmone noted that the weekend also marked the Feast of Pentecost and urged both new deacons to draw inspiration from the weekend’s events.
“May the celebration of this feast on this weekend on which you will be ordained inspire you to rejoice in the Lord’s gifts to you (and) to rejoice especially in the power of the spirit which will dwell in you this day in this wonderful sacrament of holy ordinance,” he said.
After the homily, Onate Vargas and Touzeau responded to a series of questions from the bishop to declare their “resolve to carry out the office of deacon in accord with the mind of Christ and of the Church.”
After the Promise of the Elect was observed, the men lay prostrate on the floor for the Litany of Supplication, followed by the laying on of hands and the Prayer of Ordination.
Finally, the two newly-minted deacons were vested. First, each man donned a stole, worn over his left shoulder and fastened at the side, and then a dalmatic. After vesting, they were each given the Book of the Gospels. Each man received congratulations from the bishop.
Bishop Guglielmone talked about what the ordination means to the Church in South Carolina.
“This is a day of great joy for our diocese,” he said. “We need more priests. … In the future, we’re hoping to ordain two, three, four at the same time. We are a very hopeful diocese.”
The service concluded with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and was followed by a reception at the church.
After the service, Stephen Walker, a Greenville resident and St. Mary parishioner, said he also noted the hopefulness of the ceremony, which included the recognition of more than a dozen seminary students who were in attendance.
“It was a great event, it was remarkable, actually, to see it,” Walker said. “It gives you hope.”
Mike Cellars, a convert to Catholicism, and his wife Karen travelled to the ordination from Charleston, where they attend Church of the Nativity. Their son, Michael, is in seminary and gave one of the readings.
“It was beautiful — beautiful church, beautiful ceremony; two young men making it one step closer,” Mr. Cellars said. “I was moved.”
Mrs. Cellars noted the number of children at the service, to which her husband added, “The young people, the families — all the seminarians who were here, that’s the future of our Church.”