“This is a day of grace and joy for you, my brothers, and for all of your families,” the archbishop said with a smile as he looked upon the assembly filled with friends and parishioners of the new deacons, as well as their families and some 50 priests, 40 fellow deacons and Auxiliary Bishops Thomas Curry, Gerald Wilkerson and Oscar Solis.The deacons (one is single) and their wives have journeyed for nearly five years in their formation process. It is the second large diaconate group from the region; 60 were ordained in June 2007 at Santa Barbara City College.In June, 14 men were ordained to the permanent diaconate from parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. There are now some 350 permanent deacons serving in the archdiocese, the largest number since the restoration of the permanent diaconate by the Second Vatican Council; the first class of 25 deacons for Los Angeles was ordained in 1975.“All of us in our Christian lives are entrusted with a mission to serve our brothers and sisters in the name of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Gomez noted in his homily. “Each of us is called to take Jesus as our model and to imitate him by serving the Church and all mankind. However, you who are to be ordained to the permanent diaconate are called by God and set apart to a divinely instituted ministry of service in his Church.”Citing the day’s Gospel reading from St. John (“I no longer call you slaves, but friends”), the archbishop encouraged the new deacons to “enter deeply” into a friendship with Jesus Christ, who “welcomes you to sacramental ministry in his Church — not as servants, but as friends. I pray that you will accept this beautiful gift of his friendship and let it shape your identity as deacons and let it set the program for your ministries.”He reminded them that, in their ministries, they are called “to a life of simple holiness and an attitude of humble service. By your ordination, you are configured to the image of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself to come among us in the form of a servant. You are called to serve — in persona Christi Servi, ‘in the person of Christ the Servant.’”Thus, he said, it is imperative that their example and actions speak as profoundly as the Gospels that they proclaim at Mass.“Through your service of love,” Archbishop Gomez asserted, “you will show our brothers and sisters how much God loves them. You will show them how God longs to touch each one of us personally with his love.”Newly ordained are: Genaro Gacasan and Luc Papillon (Blessed Junípero Serra, Camarillo); Eduardo Castillo, Patrick Coulter, Derrel Craig, Dennis Fleming, Michael Kromm and Joseph Tumbarello (Holy Cross, Moorpark); Jeffrey Braxton, Fernando Calderon, Miguel Marquez, Paul Nicastro and Jesus Rico (La Purísima Concepción, Lompoc); Alfonso Flores (Mary Star of the Sea, Oxnard); Daniel Bojorquez, Michael Burns, José Gonzalez, Don Huntley and Philip Joerger (Our Lady of the Assumption, Ventura); Sergio Bernal (Our Lady of Guadalupe, Guadalupe); Falk Gosdschan (Our Lady of Guadalupe, Santa Barbara); Jason Miller (Our Lady of Guadalupe, Santa Paula); Roberto González, David Munoz and Paul Rayas (Our Lady of Sorrows, Santa Barbara); Michael Lujan (Queen of Angels, Lompoc); Philip Conforti and Humberto Guzman (Sacred Heart, Ventura-Saticoy); Andrew Cottam (St. Anthony, Oxnard); Raymond Rodriguez (St. Francis of Assisi, Fillmore); José Ojeda (St. John Neumann, Santa Maria); Joseph Bond and Claudio Selame (St. Julie Billiart, Newbury Park); Christopher Boerger, Alfredo Espinosa, Antonio Mejia and Robert Schaefer (St. Louis De Montfort, Santa Maria); Dennis Pearson, Steven Pent (St. Mary of the Assumption, Santa Maria); George Esseff Jr. (St. Mary Magdalen, Camarillo); Christopher Laliberte (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Westlake Village); David Lawrence (St. Paschal Baylon, Thousand Oaks); Melecio Zamora (St. Peter Claver, Simi Valley); Edward Posvar (St. Rose of Lima, Simi Valley); Joaquin Lara (St. Thomas Aquinas, Ojai); and Jerome Bettencourt, Vincent Crawford and Leonardo Lacbain (Santa Clara, Oxnard).—Mike Nelson{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0722/sbdeacons/{/gallery}