“Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read; teach what you believe; practice what you teach,” Archbishop José Gomez told 15 deacons ordained June 9 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, as he handed to each of them the Book of the Gospels during the rite of ordination.The newly ordained deacons include Robert Ashe (Blessed Kateri Church, Santa Clarita), Ron Baker (Holy Family, Glendale), Joseph Bernal (St. Francis Xavier, Pico Rivera), Peter Brause (St. Louise de Marillac, Covina), James Carper (St. Peter Claver, Simi Valley), Victor Cruz (St. Albert the Great, West Rancho Dominguez), Gregory Halamicek (Sacred Heart, Lancaster), Philip Luevanos (St. Dorothy, Glendora), Michael Morgan (St. Ambrose, West Hollywood), Thien Pham (St. Lucy, Long Beach), Dominic Pontrelli (Incarnation, Glendale), Jorge Ramos (St. Anthony, Long Beach), Jose Rodriguez (St. Louise of France, La Puente), Fausto Sanchez (St. Andrew, Pasadena), and Andrew Bartus (Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter).With more than 3,000 in attendance, Archbishop Gomez described the day as one of “joy, gran alegría” for the archdiocese and on several occasions commended the wives for helping their husbands in the process.For married aspiring deacons, the five-year diaconate formation requires that the wives approve their entrance to the archdiocesan program and that they attend classes with their husbands as well. Although they are not ordained, they receive a certificate from the archbishop and they often work side-by-side with their husband in parish ministries.This year’s class was named after renowned social justice activist Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930s to help the poor and homeless. Fittingly, the deacons were called by Archbishop Gomez to follow Day’s example — to be “ministers of the Lord doing charity and service to all the people of God.“What a beautiful gift the Lord has given to you,” the archbishop told the attentive deacons sitting to his right. “Stay close by Him, in service of God to His people.”Citing St. John’s Gospel regarding how God chooses his servants, the archbishop also stressed the “close relationship” between deacons, bishops and priests. He invited the deacons to “contemplate the face of Jesus, to know Him and imitate His life and to bear fruits of love for His plan of salvation.“Love is the whole meaning of your vocation,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Love is the gift of your whole life.”He urged them to find time every day to be “quiet in the presence of the Blessed Eucharist, to let it be their strength always,” and to find in celibacy an “inspiration and source of faith.”“Men full of wisdom and of the Holy Spirit are never allowed to be turned away from the hope offered by the Gospel,” he remarked.The ceremony became emotional when the 14 wives (one deacon is single) helped vest their husbands with the stole and dalmatic, and then received the Book of Gospels from their newly ordained husbands. Many of the books were presents from relatives or friends, such as the one given to one of the youngest couples in the diaconate program, Jorge and Amelia Ramos, (both in their mid-30s and parents of five boys ages 2 to 10). Their aunt, Catechist Missionary Sister Magdalena Rivera, traveled to Mexico City to purchase the book with genuine leather cover, guilt-edged pages and handmade illuminations.“As I told the priests last week,” Archbishop Gomez smiled, “we want you to come to work right away.” He then thanked the wives for “everything you do for your husbands, now my deacons,” he said, eliciting laughter.Aspiring deacon Long Nguyen and his wife Kim, eucharistic ministers at St. Catherine Laboure in Torrance, praised the deacon formation program and its director, Deacon Craig Siegman. They attended the ceremony to support newly ordained Deacon Pham and his wife Hanh Nguyen.“We are learning how to serve and he (Siegman) is such a role model,” said the members of the Class of 2013.They also offered advice for those who are still discerning about joining the program. “If you have in your heart that God is calling you to serve,” they said, “try at least one time serving the sick, the homeless or the prisoner and if you’re married go together and then discuss how you felt and where is your heart taking you.”They said the formation has helped enhance their relationship and to know each other better.After the ceremony, the plaza was full of relatives and friends waiting to greet and receive a blessing from the newly ordained deacons.“He really deserves this,” said Emilia Svelund, cousin of Deacon Bernal, whom she considers a mentor to all her family.“He has always cared for people and always offers his home for whoever needs it,” said the longtime parishioner of St. Francis Xavier in Pico Rivera, where the Bernals are involved in restorative justice and bereavement ministries.For more information about the Diaconate Formation program, call (213) 637-7383 or email [email protected].{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0615/deacons/{/gallery}