By Patrick Downes
Hawaii Catholic Herald
“You are called to be salt and light in a very special way,” Bishop Larry Silva said in his homily directed at six men in white albs in the front pew of the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, the evening of Jan. 18, moments before he ordained them deacons.
Expounding on the words of the Gospel reading, the bishop gave the deacon candidates their marching orders: to bring the taste and radiance of Jesus to prison inmates, to troubled married couples, to a secularized and sexualized culture.
In a jubilant two-hour liturgy, Bishop Silva ordained Glenn (Mike) M. Brown of St. Jude Parish, Kapolei, Ricardo M. Burgos of St. John the Baptist, Kalihi, Raymond L. Lamb of St. John the Baptist, Kalihi, Rafael A. Mendoza of the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, Jonathan R. Ocampo of Immaculate Conception, Ewa, and Gerald E. Streff of St. Jude, Kapolei.
The men, all from Oahu, were the first of a 10-member class being ordained this January and February. The other four will be ordained in ceremonies on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. They make up the diocese’s eighth deacon class. When completed, their ordinations will bring the number of active permanent deacons in Hawaii to 62, a number that includes nine deacons from other dioceses working here.
An estimated 900 people — family members, friends, fellow parishioners, members of the diaconate community — packed the co-cathedral to witness the ordinations. The pews were nearly full a half-hour before the start of the 7 p.m. liturgy and the mood was a happy buzz of excitement, in contrast with the blustery wet conditions outside.
The Mass started with the six candidates leading what turned out to be a seven-minute-long procession and taking their places in the church’s front pews. Behind them were Knights of Columbus, some in familiar plumed hats and capes, others in the organization’s new uniforms of suits and berets.
Following them were 35 permanent deacons and 40 priests who all took their places in the expansive white-marbled sanctuary dominated by its massive white crucifix.
Closing the procession, Bishop Silva incensed the altar and greeted the assembly.
“Peace be with you,” he said. “We thank God for bringing us together this evening.”
The ordination rite began after the reading of the Gospel with the summoning of the candidates.
“Let those who are to be ordained come forward,” announced Deacon John Coughlin, director of the diaconate formation program.
He then called up each individual by name.
“Present,” each one said before stepping into the sanctuary facing the bishop.
Then, vicar general Msgr. Gary Secor, in response to the bishop’s ritual questioning of the candidates’ readiness, said, “I testify that they have been found worthy.”
The bishop concluded, “Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the order of the diaconate.”
The congregation replied with a reverberating “Thanks be to God!” and sustained applause.
Bishop Silva’s homily followed.
“You have tasted and seen how good the Lord is,” the bishop said. “Your witness of the Gospel of Jesus in the workplace and marketplace can be … what others need to taste and see how good the Lord is.”
After the homily, the bishop took a seat in front of the altar and, crosier in hand, asked the candidates about their “resolve” to accept the responsibilities of their new role.
To five questions, the men answered, “I do.”
The bishop also asked each candidate to promise “respect and obedience” to him and his successors.
The men then lay face down on the floor while everyone else knelt and sang the long “Litany of Supplication” asking 40 saints for their prayers and Jesus for deliverance, mercy and blessings.
The candidates then knelt as Bishop Silva, proceeding from right to left, slowly and solemnly lay his hands, one by one, on the heads of Brown, Burgos, Lamb, Mendoza, Streff and Ocampo, ordaining them deacons.
He pronounced the ordination prayer.
“Look with favor on these servants,” he said. “May they remain strong and steadfast in Christ.”
The six men were then helped by other deacons into their new diaconal vestments, the stole draped over the left shoulder crossing the chest diagonally and the sleeved outer vestment called a dalmatic.
Their dalmatics were each topped with a purple orchid lei.
Bishop Silva then handed each new deacon the book of the Gospels, which they were now empowered to read, saying, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. May you believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”
The other deacons in the sanctuary lined up to give each of the newly ordained the “fraternal kiss of peace” — a big back-patting hug. That took a good five minutes.
After Communion, which the new deacons helped distribute, Bishop Silva formally presented them to the congregation.
“We congratulate our new deacons,” he said, to which the church burst into applause.
“But they did not come on this journey alone,” he said, introducing the blessing of the deacon’s wives, inviting them forward to stand with their husbands.
“May they continue the journey in mutual respect and love until they rest in your Kingdom,” he prayed.
Each deacon gave his wife a white lei.
The bishop and Deacon Coughlin then announced rounds of mahalos before the dismissal and final hymn.
After Mass, the new deacons greeted well-wishers outside in front of the co-cathedral as leis stacked ear-high on each of them like at a high school graduation.
The neighbor island ordination schedule is as follows:
- Andres (Bambi) Emayo Jr.: 10 a.m., Jan. 20, Immaculate Conception Parish, Lihue, Kauai
- Christopher S. Ribucan: 10 a.m., Jan. 27, Holy Rosary, Paia, Maui.
- Craig S. Camello and David W. Watson: 7 p.m., Feb. 2, St. Michael Church, Kailua-Kona