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By Malie Hudson

RANCHO CUCAMONGA—Before 150 family and friends, Richard Ahumada was ordained a Transitional Deacon by Bishop Alberto Rojas on May 22 at Sacred Heart Church in Rancho Cucamonga.

 Several significant moments marked the day. It was the first Ordination Mass celebrated indoors with a singing choir since the height of the pandemic last year. Bishop Rojas was the main celebrant and served as the ordaining prelate while Bishop Emeritus Gerald Barnes joined the celebration as he had worked closely with Ahumada for most of his formation before the Bishop’s retirement in December. With family and friends tuning in through the live stream Mass and Ahumada’s sister, family and friends in the church audience, his mother, Francisca Velasquez, and oldest brother, Marcello, walked with him in the opening procession.

 “It’s a real joy seeing my brother take the next step,” said Marcello. “It makes me proud for my family.”

 Ahumada, 45, was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico with his four siblings. His parents were farmers who eventually moved the family to Salt Lake City, Utah. Ahumada moved to Palm Desert in 2000 and became actively involved in the Hispanic youth ministry and faith formation at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in La Quinta.

 His mother, brother and Father Charles “Gino” Galley vested Ahumada with his new stole and dalmatic. With his father, who is recuperating in the hospital, on his mind, it was a touching moment for mother and son as she embraced him after his investiture.

 “I was full of joy and I was grateful to God,” said Francisca Velasquez. “I was praying to God for the son he gave me. I always pray to God for all of my kids, and I feel like I got the best kids in the world.”

 “The whole celebration was very beautiful for me,” said Ahumada. “But the moment that touched me was when my mom gave me a blessing and gave me to the Church.”

 In his homily, Bishop Rojas acknowledged the significance of this important step in his journey to the priesthood.

 “We are grateful to God for you and your mother for giving us your son to the Church,” he said. “It’s a big deal. Something that cannot be done without God’s intervention. Your Ordination to the Diaconate is not just a transitional ministry on the way to the priesthood. The bishops and priests retain that diaconate office while they do their ministry, empowering them to fulfill their baptismal role as a priestly people.”

 The Mass was celebrated in English and Spanish in the church where Ahumada served his internship in the past year. At the end of Mass, Bishop Rojas announced that Ahumada would begin his diaconate ministry at St. Peter and Paul Parish in Alta Loma until he is ordained a priest. He hopes to continue to build on his experiences in pastoral care, business administration, faith formation and engagement with different cultural groups.

 “Thank you for all of you in this beautiful community,” Ahumada said during a speech at the end of the celebration. “You helped me to understand what is self-giving to the Church. Thank you so much for letting me go with you, to walk you.”