The Road to Ordination

April 29-May 5, 2004
The Road to Ordination
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
Seminarians Anticipate the Joy of their Upcoming Priesthoods

“Be firm and steadfast, taking care to observe the entire law which my servant Moses enjoined on you. Do not swerve from it either to the right or to the left, that you may succeed wherever you go. Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”

— Joshua 1:7-9

The Syracuse Diocese will be spiritually enriched with the addition of four new religious leaders who have completed their studies and are ready to guide and minister to the people of the diocese. Joseph O’Connor was ordained to the diaconate on April 24. As he prepares for stewardship at Blessed Sacrament Church followed by his final year of study at St. Mary’s Seminary, he looks forward to what lies ahead. “I am not anxious because I know that God has called me to this vocation. His grace and the preparation of seminary life have equipped me well for this ministry,” he said. Deacon O’Connor was very excited to have his family gather at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md. to witness his commitment to Christ. “As a deacon, I will be able to bring people to the Lord and the Lord to the people in a new way,” he said. Deacon O’Connor will be ordained to the priesthood in June, 2005. “This last year of preparation for ordination is a busy one,” said Deacon O’Connor. “But it is an important time to begin the transition out of the seminary and into parish life.”

Kevin Maloney was ordained to the diaconate at that time also. He will spend his pastoral year at Holy Cross Parish in Dewitt. “It will be wonderful to be able to continue to serve great people in so many ways,” said Deacon Maloney. After his summer of pastoral work is complete, he will return to St. Mary’s Seminary to complete his final year of theology. “Perhaps one of the most important roles of a fourth-year theology student is to be present to the incoming seminarians and to be a good role model for them,” said Deacon Maloney. “The witness value of someone like Joe or me preparing for the priesthood speaks volumes. I hope it says to the people that their are guys who are in there 20s and soon to be 30s, whose hearts are on fire to serve God and God’s people in the ministry of the priesthood,” he said.

Deacon Maloney said that he is most excited about proclaiming the Gospel. He feels that it is an awesome privilege to preach and perform the sacrament of baptism. “I was very moved by an emergency baptism I had to perform as a hospital chaplain during my clinical pastoral education,” said Deacon Maloney. “To do that on a regular basis as a deacon will simply be a joy.” Thienan Tran, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish, was ordained to the Order of Deacon at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on March 20. As he prepared for his ordination, he expressed his gratefulness to the people of Syracuse who welcomed him and his family upon their arrival from Vietnam in 1992. Deacon Tran said that he received great inspiration to enter the priesthood from Vietnamese and American priests and sisters as well as the parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Church. “But the most important persons who have inspired me to respond to God’s call were Jesus and Mary,” said Deacon Tran. “They are perfect models for me to imitate. They show me how to respond to God’s call. I am so happy to be a deacon. I pray that if God wills, I will be ordained to the priesthood in June 2005.”

Deacon John Kurgan has completed his studies at St. Mary’s Seminary and will be ordained into the priesthood in June 2004 along with Deacon Michael Greco. “My feelings now are feelings of excitement,” said Deacon Kurgan. However, while he feels excitement about his upcoming ordination, Deacon Kurgan said that he also takes his responsibilities to the people of God very seriously. “As a lay person, it [responsibility] is not quite as intense as that of a priest,” he said. “Once you get into priesthood, that’s where the tire hits the road. You have to know how to do it and do it well. If you make a mistake you are not impacting only yourself but everyone else.”

Deacon Kurgan feels that everything he does is done in the bishop’s name and ultimately, in the name of the church. “It’s not about wearing vestments,” said Deacon Kurgan. “It’s not about us –– it’s about the church.” Deacon Kurgan said that is why an ordination is a very public event. “Ordinations are not celebrated privately, but with as many people present as possible because it’s all about service to them, the people of God.” While the young men who have chosen to give their lives to God have ended their journeys of preparation and study, they are embarking on a new journey –– one of commitment, service and ministry to God and His people. “I can’t believe it’s finally here!” said Deacon Maloney. “My thoughts are all over the place. But when I think of laying down my life in love and service for God and God’s people, I feel incredibly blessed and humbled.”

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