Archbishop José H. Gomez ordained 19 men to the permanent diaconate during a June 6 multi-lingual Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

“Brothers, you are called to be servants of love,” said the archbishop during his homily, directly addressing this year’s diaconate formation class, including Deacons Carlos Castro (St. Elisabeth, Van Nuys); José de Jes√∫s Benavides (St. Marcellinus, City of Commerce); Juan Navarro (St. Joseph, Hawthorne); Dennis Shinn (St. Denis, Diamond Bar); Donald Burt (St. Lawrence Martyr, Redondo Beach); Gabriel Saavedra (St. Bruno, Whittier); Gilberto Herrera-Hernández (Our Lady of Peace, North Hills) and Joseph Flores (St. Benedict, Montebello).

Also among this year’s class are Deacons Joseph Domond (Our Lady of Assumption, Claremont); José Luis Diaz (Sacred Heart, Altadena); José Ortiz (Mary Immaculate, Pacoima); José Sedano (Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Los Nietos); José Pe√±ate-Mojica (Holy Name of Jesus, L.A.); Marciano Enriquez (Our Lady of Lourdes, Tujunga); Mario López (Guardian Angel, Pacoima); Omar Uriate (St. Louis De Marilac, Covina); Ramón Nu√±ez (Maria Regina, Gardena); Samuel Montoya (St. Pancratius, Lakewood) and Serj Harutunian (Incarnation, Glendale).

“You are being called to this vocation of love at an important moment in the life of the Church … when our world needs a new witness to the reality of God’s mercy,” said Archbishop Gomez. “As deacons, you are servants of love, and mercy is love in action. ... It means going out to seek the lost, it means lifting up those who have fallen, it means helping others to find the path that God is calling them to.

“Open your hearts to serving the family of God in love and mercy,” he added, “and walk always with the Holy Spirit … and let the spirit guide you. Ask him for the light you need to see, to help you meet the challenges in your ministry.”

The ordination Mass — which includes rituals similar to those in priestly ordinations — included the deacons’ Promise of Obedience to the archbishop, the Laying on of Hands, the sacred Prayer of Ordination and Investiture with Stole and Dalmatic, with the deacons’ wives assisting with vesting their husbands.

For Deacon José Benavides, the most impactful moment was the presentation of the Book of Gospels to the new deacons, particularly the poignant words the archbishop recited: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”

“For me, that is the greatest responsibility, to work the way God needs us to work for his kingdom — by believing in God’s words, teaching them, and living according to His words,” said the recently-retired Benavides, who ministers as lector, visits incarcerated youth and serves in the St. Vincent de Paul ministry, after the ordination. “That’s the most significant thing for me as a new deacon.”

Following Communion, Jenny Ocegueda-Reynosa, archdiocesan diaconate formation coordinator, called up the wives of the newly-ordained deacons. The women, who formed a circle around the altar facing the assembly, were recognized for their dedication to “making the diaconate journey along with their husbands.”

“In the midst of challenges these women brought many gifts into the formation process and continued to develop those gifts, as well as new ones, throughout the five years of formation,” said Ocegueda-Reynosa.

“They will be a real blessing to the communities in which they will minister. Today the church community of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles proudly honors you as great women of service.”

After the service, family and friends lined up in the Cathedral Plaza to greet the deacons and their wives and to receive first blessings from the new deacons. For Maria Elena Navarro, the ordination of her husband Juan was “very, very emotional.” She described it as a new beginning as a couple, “like a wedding.”

“When we got married the focus was on me, but today it was on him,” she told The Tidings with tears of happiness streaming down her cheeks. Their ministries at St. Joseph, Hawthorne include serving as eucharistic ministers, in bereavement ministry, and wedding and baptism preparation.

“I feel blessed and I look forward to walking alongside with my husband in our ministry, and I encourage all the men and women out there to come forward. The Catholic community needs all of us.”