The large sanctuary at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels could barely contain all the priests, bishops, and deacons who had come to celebrate the ordination of six deacons to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on June 1.
“You, my brothers, are called to be the shepherds of God’s people,” Archbishop José H. Gomez told the men in his homily. “And Jesus is calling you to do it as he did — serving your brothers and sisters in humility, from the heart, and at a personal sacrifice.”
Once the ordination rites were complete — the laying on of hands, investiture and the anointing with chrism oil — Louis Sung, Brian Humphrey, Miguel Ángel Ruiz, Emmanuel Delfin, Luther Diaz, and José María Ortiz were sent forth to announce the Gospel as priests for the archdiocese.
But first, they had to give blessings — lots of them.
First came the bishops who concelebrated the ordination Mass, then their fellow priests, then their closest family members. And then, outside in the Cathedral Plaza, the hundreds of relatives, friends, and fellow LA Catholics who waited patiently.
For one of the ordinandi, the vocation to the priesthood seems to be something that runs in the family.
“I think it’s in the DNA,” said Humphrey’s uncle Father Charlie Diedrick, who traveled from Cleveland to witness the ordination, and to gift a special German-made chalice that had belonged to the new priest’s great-great uncle, Father Peter Dietz, who was ordained in New York in 1906.
The chalice was passed down to his relative Father Joe Stolz in 1968, and then to Diedrick in 1978. Now, it was this time for this “fourth-generation priest” to use it.
“Every once in a while I teared up just thinking back to my own days,” Diedrick told Angelus News after the Mass. “It’s an incredible vocation in terms of serving people.”
“Every day is something new, there’s no routine about it. And I think you are dealing with the ultimate questions in life. You’re there for people at their marriages, their baptisms, their funerals.”
The Mass was streamed live on Youtube and Facebook so that family and friends of the ordinandi, from Mexico to the Philippines, could witness the special moment.
But nothing could compare to the boisterous, thundering applause this year’s batch of new priests got when Archbishop Gomez presented the six priests to the standing room-only crowd in the cathedral.
Before ordaining them, Archbishop Gomez gave the men a piece of personal encouragement.
“My dear brothers, I have to tell you: It is so exciting to be a priest,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade my vocation for anything. There is nothing more beautiful than to bring people to the encounter with Jesus Christ, so they can know and love him and imitate him and work to make this world his kingdom.”
But by the end of the service, Archbishop Gomez was speaking to the new priests with a little more urgency, even if he was only half-joking: “We want you to start working now.”
Angelus writer Clara Fox contributed to this article.
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