In the days leading up to his ordination to the permanent diaconate, Ryan Adams was reflecting on his relationship with the Holy Spirit — how, in his ministry as a deacon, he “must be a living vessel for the Spirit to not only dwell in, but also a vessel for the Spirit to work through,” serving others in need.
Interviewed by The Tidings after the June 7 ceremony in which he was one of 15 men ordained permanent deacons at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Adams noted with joy that Archbishop José Gomez “was so good” about driving that point home about the Holy Spirit’s presence.
“When he laid hands on me,” said Adams, “that power he talks about is a life-changing experience. That connection and love and relationship with the Holy Spirit that I have, I didn’t know it could be magnified, and it was.”
“Your ministry will change people’s lives,” said the archbishop in his homily. “We need to be a church that changes lives, that makes all things new. We need to be a church of mercy and love, especially for the poor and the wounded.”
Noting that the ordination ceremony was taking place on the vigil of Pentecost, the archbishop invoked the Holy Spirit “in a special way today” to give life and strength and wisdom to those about to be ordained.
The ordination ritual included the deacons’ individual promise of obedience to the archbishop, the “laying on of hands” and sacred prayer of ordination, followed by “investiture with stole and dalmatic,” and presentation of the Book of Gospels with the archbishop’s recitation of the words: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”
Following Communion, the 14 spouses of the newly-ordained deacons (one of the deacons is single) were called up individually around the altar to be recognized.
“In the midst of other challenges, these women brought many gifts into the formation process and continued to develop those gifts and new ones throughout the five years of formation,” said Jenny Ocegueda-Reynosa, archdiocesan diaconate formation coordinator, who added that many of the women are now ready to serve the church as professional, skilled ministers in areas that include lectoring and bereavement ministry.
On the Cathedral Plaza after the service, lines of people — some having traveled great distances — formed to receive first blessings from the new deacons. Riverside resident Ava Hein, sister of Phyllis Cremer (wife of Deacon Doug Cremer), told The Tidings that the day was the culmination of a journey that began when the couple met while on staff at Aquinas High School in San Bernardino.
“My sister was director of religious studies and he was one of the teachers,” taking a sabbatical from the seminary, said Hein. “He met my sister, they fell in love, got married — it’s full circle now. Where God has called them in the beginning, he’s brought them right back and they have worked in the church for many, many years and their daughters do the same thing.”
Standing in Deacon Ron Elchert’s line, Father Pedro Lopez, pastor of St. Pius X in Santa Fe Springs, said he didn’t know where to begin to describe his new parish deacon’s many good qualities.
“I think the most important thing is that he works well with the people in the community,” said Father Lopez. “He understands them, he is able to welcome them and embrace them and make them feel a part of church, and I think that goes a long way in any area of ministry.”
Deacon Elchert, his pastor added, organized donation-giving from the parish to put together emergency packets to assist homeless people in the cities of Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk.
Father Francis Mendoza, administrator at St. Finbar in Burbank, said Deacon Omar Samoyoa-Ramos, active as a parish sacristan and in jail ministry, will make a great deacon. “He has such a heart for service, a warmth for the people, and he brings the presence of Christ to all that he meets.”
Newly-ordained Deacon Osman González-Rojas, the single man in the group from Holy Family in Glendale who serves in Justice and Peace ministry and also visits the sick in his parish, shared that his ordination is a blessing.
“Sometimes you [wonder] if you are worthy,” said Rojas, “but I think the call is different for everybody, and the call for me is to be a deacon — to share in the grace of the Lord.”