|Deacons Andrew Forsythe, Dillon Barker and Rodolfo Rivera lie prostrate on the altar as the Litany of Saints is sung during their ordination to the transitional diaconate at the Cathedral of the Incarnation on March 19. Father Jayd Neely, one of the masters of ceremony of the ordination Mass, looks on. Photos by Theresa Laurence
Family and friends of Dillon Barker, Andrew Forsythe and Rodolfo Rivera, along with dozens of priests and deacons, filled the Cathedral of the Incarnation on March 19 to witness the three men be ordained to the transitional diaconate.
For Deacon Forsythe, the ordination was all about “experiencing moments of God’s grace in my life surrounded by family and friends, under the umbrella of the Catholic Church.”
Bishop David Choby was the celebrant of the ordination Mass; Msgr. Christopher Schreck, rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum presented the ordinands.
“The moment when Bishop Choby laid his hands on my head” during the ordination rite was the standout moment of the day, Deacon Barker said. “It seems as though peace just flooded into my soul.”
“It was also a really moving experience to make my obedience in Bishop Choby’s hands,” Deacon Barker said. “He has meant so much to me since I have received all my sacraments but Baptism from him.”
For Deacon Rivera, one of the most meaningful moments of the ordination came when Bishop Choby handed him the Book of Gospels. The instruction “to preach genuinely reminded me the responsibilities that I carry with God’s Word and my Christian behavior,” Deacon Rivera said.
A transitional deacon is an ordained minister of the Church who is preparing for priesthood, while permanent deacons are men who are not planning to be priests. Both transitional and permanent deacons exercise various ministries including proclaiming the Gospel and preaching; they can also baptize, witness marriages and conduct funerals.
“Ordination to Holy Orders is a privilege because God is entrusting me with service, and I am entrusting myself to Him to be a servant,” Deacon Rivera told the Tennessee Register ahead of his ordination to the diaconate. “I see my diaconate as a way God has called me to live my life, to serve others.”
All the newly ordained deacons jumped right into their new roles, with assignments around the Diocese of Nashville during Holy Week. Deacon Barker spent Holy Week at Sacred Heart Church in Loretto; Deacon Forsythe was at St. Joseph Church in Madison; and Deacon Rivera was at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Nashville.
|Deacon Rodolfo Rivera poses for a photo with permanent Deacon Hernan Andrade of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church after Deacon Rivera’s ordination to the transitional diaconate. Deacon Rivera is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Nashville this summer. Deacons Barker and Forsythe are on track to be ordained in 2017.
Many Guadalupe parishioners were on hand March 19 at the Cathedral, eager to congratulate Deacon Rivera on his ordination. “I was overjoyed by the presence of so many people at my ordination. My vocation has been strengthened by God’s people; each has played a different part,” he said.
Deacon Rivera also said he was “humbled” to have Father David Gaffny vest him during the ordination ceremony. Father Gaffny, a fluent Spanish speaker who spent many years in Latin America, “was the priest who invited me to the Diocese of Nashville,” Deacon Rivera said.
Deacon Barker also mentioned that he was happy to have the support of the Loretto community at the ordination. He had previously served the parish during a summer internship. “Even though they are more than two hours away, more than 30 of them came up to the Cathedral for the ordination Mass. I was overwhelmed by their kindness, generosity, prayers, and support,” he said.
After Easter break, the new transitional deacons will return to their seminaries to complete their school semesters. Deacons Barker and Forsythe will continue studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. Deacon Rivera will complete his studies at Assumption Seminarian in San Antonio before returning to Nashville for his ordination to the priesthood.
Deacon Rivera is scheduled to be ordained June 3, 2016, along with Deacon Daniel Steiner. Deacons Barker and Forsythe, along with Deacon Joe Fessenden, are on track to be ordained priests in the summer of 2017.