On Saturday, May 10th Archbishop Charles Chaput ordained (8) men as Transitional Deacons during a beautiful Mass in Saint Martin’s Chapel at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.
Transitional deacons are seminarians in their last year of preparation for ordination to the priesthood. A Transitional Deacon may baptize, preach, distribute Communion, witness marriages and lead rites for Christian burial. Three of the ordained men are well known to our parish: Reverend Mr. Daniel Arechabala is a son of our parish (he grew up in Mother of Divine Providence Parish from the age of 2!), Reverend Mr. Steven Kiernan is the adopted son of our parish (he comes to us from another Diocese, but he will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, so he found a home here with us), Reverend Mr. Joseph Zaleski served an internship summer here (he visited our homebound and assisted wherever possible).
Our parish witnessed Rev. Mr. Daniel Arechabala’s first homily during the 9:30 AM Mass, and Rev. Mr. Steven Kiernan’s first homily during the 11:30 AM Mass this past Sunday, May 11th. Here is a transcription of their homilies:
Reverend Mr. Daniel Arechabala’s First Homily:
Today we have the readings for the good Shepherd who cares for all His sheep down to the last lamb. God really has a sense of humor. Here I am just ordained a deacon with very little experience as a shepherd. You can see my predicament. Although I don’t have this experience of being a good shepherd, my Mother can attest that I have plenty of experience being a bad lamb. I am sure all mothers can attest to their children getting into some kind of trouble. In spite of these short comings, you moms never stop loving us. I can remember that in those moments of bad behavior my dad supporting my mom’s decisions. You dads haven’t stopped loving us either. Why should this be any different with Jesus toward us?
Jesus as the son of God should certainly be capable of as much as we are. Sometimes we don’t follow Jesus as well as we should. Sometimes we place other things before Jesus. When we voluntarily choose to follow a voice other than the voice of Jesus we sin. If we don’t follow Jesus voice we are following the voice of the thief Jesus spoke about who “comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;” But we shouldn’t be afraid. Because the Good Shepherd is there to help us.
Jesus says he is the good shepherd. He makes it clear that today’s Psalm is about Him. He is the Lord who is our shepherd. Even though we walk in the dark valley we fear no evil, because Jesus is there with His rod and His staff that give us courage. So we should not be afraid to come back to Him when we sin. We should be like the crowds in the first reading from Acts. When they realized they had done wrong in crucifying Jesus they were cut to the heart, and asked St. Peter what to do. Listen again to what he told them:
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
We are familiar with the position of the sinner, we all sin. Let us imagine what it would be like to be in the position of Christ. We can get a glimpse of Christ’s view point, by the way we see young children. We all have seen little kids try to get away with something they did wrong. You can see it in the way they look at you when they have been discovered. It is that pivotal moment where they are trying to decide: “do I lie about what I did to get away with it, or do I come clean?” Meanwhile we have seen whole thing, and know they are in the wrong. So we wait, arms crossed to see what they decide to do. Jesus sees us this way. He knows when we have done wrong. However the difference between Him and us is that he doesn’t stand with arms crossed, but wide open on the Cross. He desires so much that we would be reconciled with Him. He made the greatest sacrifice so that we could always come back to Him. This is what St. Peter means in our second reading when he says: “By His wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
I hope now you’re wondering, I understand what you’re saying, but what do I do now? I have been baptized already, so I have already been forgiven. But that is not enough, after baptism we still sin. This is why we have confession. Confession is the best way to come to terms with Jesus. The priest sits in Christ’s place and forgives our sins. We have confession here every week before the Saturday 5:15 Mass. Priests are ordained and dedicated precisely to hear confessions and celebrate Mass. There is no harm in the phrase, “Father could you hear my confession”. Christ died for us that we could have so great a gift as this. Hear the voice of the Shepherd, follow Him, and come back to the regular use of Confession.
Reverend Mr. Steven Kiernan’s First Homily:
It’s funny how different things come together sometimes. In the first reading, we hear parts of St. Peter’s first public sermon, and today I’m preaching mine. He is beginning his public ministry as pope; I’m starting my ministry as a deacon. Both of these speeches are delivered to large crowds on a Sunday. St. Peter speaks with such eloquence that we’re told 3,000 people were cut to the heart and moved to a deep conversion of life. I’m not that optimistic.
We also have several events coming together today as well. Today is Mother’s Day, and I would be in big trouble if I didn’t say Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and grandmother who are here with us today, so Happy Mother’s Day, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. We also celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Vocations today. While we rejoice as a parish that two of our own have been ordained to the diaconate, it is also a reminder of the need to continue to pray for young men and women to answer the call to serve the Church in the priesthood and religious life.
Today is also commonly referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” because the theme of Christ the Good Shepherd runs throughout the Mass, both in the Gospel and in our opening prayer. In case you missed it the first time, let me re-read the opening prayer: Almighty ever-living God, lead us to a share in the joys of heaven, so that the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before.”
Doesn’t that sum up the Christian life very nicely? We, the flock, are called by Christ to shares in the joy of heaven. Our hope in this life is to reach where Christ — the brave shepherd — has already gone. That’s our baptismal call as Christians.
And as Christ says in the Gospel, He calls to the sheep, and they follow Him, because they know His voice. Now to be honest, I don’t know too much about sheep. I’ve been to a petting zoo a few times, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of sheep. As I learned from a classmate who actually had experience dealing with sheep, these animals have a pretty amazing ability to recognize the voice of their shepherd. When sheep are born, the shepherd will speak to the newborn lamb, which imprints his voice. From that time on, the sheep will respond to that voice, and pretty much no other. When sheep from different flocks are together, one shepherd at a time will call out, and their sheep will begin to follow, and the rest pretty much ignore him. The sheep know which voice to follow, and they know to avoid strange voices, because they are voices that intend to steal, slaughter, and destroy.
Even though we are the sheep of Christ’s flock, sometimes our ears aren’t so finely tuned to be able to recognize and follow the voice of the Shepherd. It’s easy for us to get led astray by other voices. These are the voices of the world that focus not on the heavenly joys to which we are called, but rather on material gain. Let’s compare the voices of the Shepherd and the world:
* Christ tell us to love one another as He has loved us. The world tells us to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
* Christ tell us, blessed are the poor, the hungry, the meek, and the sorrowful. The world tells us to seek money, power, status, and fame.
* Christ cries out from the Cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” As we heard in the second reading “when he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten.” Yet the world tell us “someone’s going to pay for this!”
All of these competing voices are those of thieves and robbers who are trying to steal, slaughter, and destroy. And what they are trying to destroy is our relationship with God and the life in heaven to which He has called us.
So what can we do, so that, in the words of St. Peter, we can save ourselves from this corrupt generation? Well, I propose one answer is to do exactly what we are doing right now: attending the Mass and participating in the liturgy. Here we can listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd as it is proclaimed in Scripture and explained. We have the privilege of doing so week after week, even day after day.
The more we listen to the Word proclaimed and preached, the more we ourselves will be cut to the heart and moved to follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who will lead us to where He has already gone.
Reverend Mr. Joseph Zaleski
Please keep these men in your prayers as they continue their faith journey to ordination into the priesthood. Ours is a wonderful parish with many fine young men. We must continue to pray also for more vocations here and in the world!
PRAY FOR VOCATIONS
“At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.'” Matthew 9:37-38
You speak to us and nourish us
through the life of this Church
In the name of Jesus, we ask you to
send your Spirit to us so that men and
women among us, young and old,
will respond to your call to service and
leadership in the Church. We pray
especially, in our day, for those who
hear your invitation to be a priest,
sister, or brother.
May those who are opening their
hearts and minds to your call be
encouraged and strengthened
through our enthusiasm in your